Since its launch, AP Computer Science Principles has become one of the most dramatically expanding AP courses, increasing access for both underrepresented minorities and female students to the field of computer science. And it looks like that growth continued into the 2018 testing cycle, according to an early examination of the 2018 exam data released by the College Board this week.
Between 2017 and 2018, the number of students taking the AP CSP exam increased from 50,000 to 76,000—about 50 percent, according to the new data.
In part, this is due to Nevada and Kentucky partnerships with the College Board to bring AP CSP to every school district within their states. In the 2017-2018 school year, Kentucky doubled the number of schools offering the course.
Unlike other computer science courses, AP CSP consists of projects that students create throughout the year and submit to receive an AP score for college credit in addition to the end-of-the-year exam. While AP CSP teaches programming and computing, it emphasizes creativity and design, providing student with the time and tools needed to explore problem-solving through computing.
“The success of AP CSP is thanks to the tireless work of educators and AP teachers around the country who have made access to computer science education for all students a priority,” said Trevor Packer, who leads the AP Program. “Students are flocking to these courses because they know they will be using computer science in whatever career they choose.”
In an effort to focus on low-income and rural students, the College Board has also partnered with The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative to expand access to AP CSP.
According to the results of previous years’ exams, performance increased with participation. With the addition of AP CSP, the number of female students earning a 3 or higher on any AP computer science exam more than doubled in 2017, while for Hispanic/Latino and African-American students, this number almost tripled.
Overall, participation has grown significantly across all AP computer science classes. Between 2007 and 2016, there was a steady rise from 20,041 to 57,937 participants. Between 2016 and 2017, this number jumped to 103,797 students—a 79 percent increase in one year.
In general, AP computer science participation among female students, Hispanic/Latino students, black students, and rural students more than doubled between 2016 and 2017.
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A version of this news article first appeared in the Curriculum Matters blog.