AP Computer Science Principles Celebrated at White House Summit
AP Computer Science Principles Celebrated at White House SummitLien Diaz, Senior Director, AP Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment
In photo, from left to right: Karla Gonzales, recent graduate, Sweetwater High School; Lien Diaz, senior director, AP curriculum, instruction, and assessment, College Board; Art Lopez, computer science teacher, Sweetwater High School; Ed Felten, Deputy US Chief Technology Officer, White House; Adrian Avalos, recent graduate, Sweetwater High School.
On September 14, 2016, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy held a Summit on Computer Science (CS) for All. CS for All leverages new and existing efforts to promote and scale computer science education in every community in America. Learning computer science prepares students to successfully participate in our technology-driven world. (You can watch a recording of the Summit on CS for All online.)
I was invited to speak at the Summit on CS for All to announce the launch of the new AP Computer Science Principles course. More than 2,000 schools have indicated they are offering the course to roughly 25,000 students this fall, making it the largest AP course launch ever.
AP Computer Science Principles was designed with the goal of creating leaders in computer science fields and attracting and engaging diverse populations of students. Not only is AP Computer Science Principles a rigorous course, but it also introduces essential computer science concepts in relevant contexts. It aims to appeal to underrepresented groups, including females and students of color, by giving students opportunities to use computer science to address real-world issues and gain skills relevant across other disciplines and industries. Students learn to create programs or technologies that have practical impact.
Professional development for educators is necessary to expanding AP Computer Science Principles. To that end, the AP Program hosted more than 70 AP Summer Institutes in 2016, training 1,400 teachers. The Program has also endorsed five curriculum and professional development providers to ensure that schools and teachers have high-quality options for implementing AP Computer Science Principles. You can find these resources (and learn how they were selected) online.
The College Board appreciates the support of—and our collaboration with—the National Science Foundation during the development of AP Computer Science Principles, as well as the hundreds of secondary and post-secondary educators who piloted and helped develop the course at their institutions. We couldn’t have done it without their dedication.
One AP Computer Science Principles teacher, Art Lopez, especially embraced this opportunity to bring computer science to his school, Sweetwater High School, a low-income school south of San Diego, CA, and his district. He was a pilot teacher for several years, and during that time he helped prepare teachers from eleven other high schools in Sweetwater Union District to teach AP Computer Science Principles at their own schools this fall. In his class, students learn to solve problems, collaborate, and express their solutions with the computer programs they write. As a testament to his efforts, one of his students, Karla Gonzales, said, “Taking the Computer Science Principles course changed my perspective of school and about myself. I truly believe computer science is a valuable course in a student’s academic career. Not many courses can teach creativity like computer science can.” The course gave Gonzales more self-confidence as she honed in on the creative aspects, and it encouraged her to pursue a degree in computer science, which she is now doing.
As our economy changes and the number of jobs requiring a computer science background increases, there’s a pressing need to recognize the importance of computer science education. AP Computer Science Principles helps students learn how they can apply computer science knowledge and skills to a broad range of fields and interests, including science, technology, engineering, art, mathematics (STEAM) and other computing disciplines. Armed with such skills, students will have broader prospects for social mobility in our country.