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Education Technology

The Whole Story Behind Low AP CS Exam Stats 325

Posted by samzenpus
from the low-expectations dept.
theodp writes "At first glance, the headline in The Salt Lake Tribune — Very Few Utah Girls, Minorities Take Computer Science AP Tests — appears to be pretty alarming. As does the headline No Girls, Blacks, or Hispanics Take AP Computer Science Exam in Some States over at Education Week. Not One Girl Took The AP Computer Science Test In Some States warns a Business Insider headline. And so on and so on and so on. So how could one quibble with tech-giant backed Code.org's decision to pay teachers a $250 "Female Student Bonus", or Google's declaration that 'the ultimate goal of CS First is to provide proven teaching materials, screencasts, and curricula for after-school programs that will ignite the interest and confidence of underrepresented minorities and girls in CS,' right? But the thing is, CollegeBoard AP CS exam records indicate that no Wyoming students at all took an AP CS exam (xls) in 2013, and only a total of 103 Utah students (xls) had reported scores. Let's not forget about the girls and underrepresented minorities, but since AP CS Exam Stats are being spun as a measure of CS education participation (pdf) and equity, let's not forget that pretty much everyone has been underrepresented if we look at the big AP CS picture. If only 29,555 AP CS scores were reported (xls) in 2013 for a HS population of about 16 million students, shouldn't the goal at this stage of the game really be CS education for all?"
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The Whole Story Behind Low AP CS Exam Stats

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  • So, whom to H8? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by smitty_one_each (243267) * on Monday January 20, 2014 @10:41AM (#46013093) Homepage Journal
    Newspaper editors for writing catchy headlines,
    researchers for writing research that both asks hard questions and lands funding, or
    voters for permitting the government to underwrite such research in the first place?

    I say blame the voters, who (a) are getting away with way too much these days, and (b) are unlikely to hit back.
    • by tysonedwards (969693) on Monday January 20, 2014 @10:48AM (#46013163)
      How about this for a catchy headline: "0.2% of US Students Take AP Computer Science Test."
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      I blame the nerds for driving everyone else out of certain fields with their naked and open hostility towards: women, minorities, political groups, windows users, console players, facebook users, sports fans, people who haven't read Ender's Game and those who display emotions outside of forums posts and D&D games.

      This isn't a troll. I am seriously blaming nerds for being openly hostile to the wider adoption of Computer Science and programming. It's a problem and the sooner it is owned up to the sooner a

      • Re:So, whom to H8? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 20, 2014 @11:10AM (#46013429)

        Heh.

        REAL REASON ==> HS girls don't want to take a class filled with Slashdot types.

        REAL REASON #2 ==> AP Computer Science classes are mostly offered in the wealthy suburbs where few minorities live.

        • Re:So, whom to H8? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by K. S. Kyosuke (729550) on Monday January 20, 2014 @11:16AM (#46013505)
          Well, even though I'm highly suspicious of the original claim, girls are not minorities (unless you're Chinese).
        • Re:So, whom to H8? (Score:5, Informative)

          by laie_techie (883464) on Monday January 20, 2014 @11:55AM (#46014035)

          Heh.

          REAL REASON ==> HS girls don't want to take a class filled with Slashdot types.

          REAL REASON #2 ==> AP Computer Science classes are mostly offered in the wealthy suburbs where few minorities live.

          REAL REASON #3 Very few high schools in the US offer AP classes in CS. My high school only had AP classes in English, History, and Mathematics. In fact, no school in my entire state offered AP classes in CS when I was a student.

          • Re:So, whom to H8? (Score:5, Insightful)

            by aynoknman (1071612) on Monday January 20, 2014 @12:27PM (#46014527)

            Heh.

            REAL REASON ==> HS girls don't want to take a class filled with Slashdot types.

            REAL REASON #2 ==> AP Computer Science classes are mostly offered in the wealthy suburbs where few minorities live.

            REAL REASON #3 Very few high schools in the US offer AP classes in CS. My high school only had AP classes in English, History, and Mathematics. In fact, no school in my entire state offered AP classes in CS when I was a student.

            REAL REASON #3a It's difficult to fund and find competent teachers for AP classes in CS. The old saw "Those who can't do teach" is pertinent here. The intersection of "those who can do CS" and "those willing to take a salary cut to a teacher's salary" and "those willing to put up with the BS that a high school teacher does" is not quite the empty set, but must be pretty close.

            • by i.r.id10t (595143)

              And yet, it is relatively easy - at least for highschools that have a University that offers a CS program within 45 minutes to an hour drive - to hire a grad student to teach one period a day. Just an adjunct at high school level instead of a community college....

              That is how I took Latin in high school (guy would come over from the uni for 2 periods a day), and it is how the senior level programming class was taught (we learned Fortran and Cobol on green screen terminals hooked up to a machine at UF).

              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                Great idea!

                OK, now this grad student is certified to teach high school, right (which means he double-majored in secondary education and computer science)? We can't have any uncertified teachers corrupting the minds of our youth.
                Cool, and he's completed his mandatory background check that he has to pay for too, right (and that will take about a year to process)? Excellent!
                And he's also going to participate in the mandatory training sessions at the high school held at 7 am, even though he isn't scheduled to

          • by stinerman (812158)

            True. Not only AP but CS at all. When I was in high school (early aughts), no programming/CS classes were even offered. To the best of my knowledge they still aren't.

        • Correction (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward
          When I was in HS , HS girl were most NOT interested into physic, math, and similar (like CS), but were overrepresented in the rest. That despite all the professors trying to make more girl goes into those domain (not a new phenomena). 20 years later it is more of the same. Maybe, just maybe, the average girl/women are not that interrested into pure abstract logic in average ? Just like the average man is not interrested (in average) in teaching young schooler ?
      • by lagomorpha2 (1376475) on Monday January 20, 2014 @11:13AM (#46013459)

        Nerds are only openly hostile toward the world at large because it was openly hostile to us first.

        • Re:So, whom to H8? (Score:4, Insightful)

          by jellomizer (103300) on Monday January 20, 2014 @11:31AM (#46013719)

          Unless you are just over sensitive.
          However thinking back on my life, there were a lot of things that I have done, that created hostility towards myself first.

          A friendly insult from a wise cracker, taken to be a large insult, leading to you escalate it to hating the person, and retribution.
          Going to an area of people who were neutral to you, and jumping and making assumptions about them.
          Dissing things that they find interesting and important...

          Lets face it, we have done plenty to make the world hostile towards us, and we could have started it.

          • by Microlith (54737)

            Lets face it, we have done plenty to make the world hostile towards us, and we could have started it.

            It's quite sad how it's led to self-blame and self-hate like this.

            Keep in mind that much of this happens at a young age, and children can be very, very horrible to each other.

        • by sjbe (173966) on Monday January 20, 2014 @12:01PM (#46014163)

          Nerds are only openly hostile toward the world at large because it was openly hostile to us first.

          I'm guessing you self identify as a "nerd". That's cool, I suppose I am one as well - I certainly was one in my youth. But I'm relatively old compared to most of the folks reading this so maybe I've gained a little insight. Hope it helps.

          The world is NOT any more hostile to "nerds" than to anyone else. Almost everyone finds the world to be a harsh place because it is. But not because it is hostile but rather because it is indifferent. If you act hostile towards the world just because you perceive you are being treated unjustly then you are in all likelihood simply hurting yourself. Your value and how you will be treated is based on what you can do for other people. Hard to be of value to others if you are openly hostile towards them. You cannot control how the world treats you but you can control how you respond to it. Think of it this way, would you respond well to someone who thinks the world hates them and lashes out at everyone?

          In reality a lot of "nerds" are pretty smart people who in the long run do rather well for themselves. Smarts in the adult world is a highly valued commodity. Develop some social skills to go along with those smarts and that's a recipe for success. Your value in the this world is based on what you can do for other people. Companies do not hire you because you are a nice guy or a hard worker. Women do not date you because of your high IQ. You have to bring more to be of value. You social status is based on what you can do for others and what assets you bring to the party. In school being smart mostly only benefits yourself. Among young people with undeveloped empathy and social skills, this can be a hard social situation at times but it doesn't mean "nerds" have it worse than anyone else. I assure you that it is no easier to be socially adept but academically challenged - different but no easier. Very few people have the whole package.

          • I was actually aiming for "+5 funny" with a snarky comment implying men who go into CS feel no sympathy toward the women who never gave their number to guys like them in high-school. But it seems some people take this a little too seriously.

        • by medv4380 (1604309)
          An eye for an eye only makes the whole world blind. -Gandhi
          Have you considered the possibility that the world may be openly hostile to nerds become some browbeating nerd like Oppenheimer was openly hostile, and they're just getting retribution by being openly hostile to nerds. They cycle does need to stop at some point, or it's infinity recursive. Build in a valid break statement, or discard your logic.
      • Re:So, whom to H8? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by K. S. Kyosuke (729550) on Monday January 20, 2014 @11:14AM (#46013469)
        Wow. This would mean that these so-called "nerds" have tremendous influence on high school students. Given how even among computer users, they constitute a small minority, I find this claim dubious.
      • Well if you Like something, then you are obviously, tainted and oblivious to it problems.
        You can't be smart unless you thoroughly find faults in everything.

         

      • by K. S. Kyosuke (729550) on Monday January 20, 2014 @11:55AM (#46014033)

        I blame the nerds for driving everyone else out of certain fields with their naked and open hostility towards: women, minorities, political groups, windows users, console players, facebook users, sports fans, people who haven't read Ender's Game and those who display emotions outside of forums posts and D&D games.

        You forgot the worst group of offensive subhumans: people who like to use PascalCasing for field and method names.

      • Not sure how this got modded insightful... During school, my academic years and subsequent time spent with various employers, I've had plenty of exposure to both nerds and non-nerd environments. Nerds tend to be more introvert, shy (not the same thing as introversion), perhaps "boring" to extroverts but far more passionate about subjects that interest them. But I have not noticed any open hostility towards minorities or women. If anything, I found them more accepting of outsiders; many of them do set hi
  • Alarming? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 20, 2014 @10:41AM (#46013105)
    Why is it alarming? People are different, genders are different. What's alarming is that every single job has to be 50-50% by law it seems. Oh except low-paying grunt jobs then it's OK that only men apply there.
    • Re:Alarming? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by rudy_wayne (414635) on Monday January 20, 2014 @10:51AM (#46013217)

      Unfortunately, we have become so mired in politically correct bullshit that it's now almost a crime to actually tell the truth about anything. A lack of women or minorities in a particular field is not a "problem" which needs to be fixed.

      Fact: People who want to study CS will enroll in CS classes. People, regardless of race or gender, who have no interest in CS, will not enroll in CS classes or take CS tests.

      • Re:Alarming? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 20, 2014 @11:05AM (#46013377)

        Unfortunately, we have become so mired in politically correct bullshit that it's now almost a crime to actually tell the truth about anything. A lack of women or minorities in a particular field is not a "problem" which needs to be fixed.

        Fact: People who want to study CS will enroll in CS classes. People, regardless of race or gender, who have no interest in CS, will not enroll in CS classes or take CS tests.

        Couldn't agree more. It's pretty damn sad when the politically correct bullshit has gone so far as to defend those who don't even need or want to be defended.

        And it's ironic that in fields where women have typically represented the overwhelming majority, we don't suddenly see this equally as a "problem".

        • Re:Alarming? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 20, 2014 @11:18AM (#46013533)

          And it's ironic that in fields where women have typically represented the overwhelming majority, we don't suddenly see this equally as a "problem".

          I see the shortage of males in K-12 teaching roles as a problem.
          As for the rest, let people learn what they want and try to carve a life out of it. Maybe your dual study of presentation arts and lungfish anatomy [wikipedia.org] will lead to a life of semi-skilled labor at a factory, or maybe you will find your audience and become a new art sensation. Go, pursue your desires, and keep some backup options until they succeed.

      • Unfortunately, we have become so mired in politically correct bullshit that it's now almost a crime to actually tell the truth about anything. A lack of women or minorities in a particular field is not a "problem" which needs to be fixed.

        The US is well on its way to becoming majority Hispanic.

        The geek may be well on the way to be as marginalized by a minority and aging white population as the GOP.

        Tech is designed and built for markets. If you haven't a clue about what women want from tech, what Hispanics want from tech, you are not going to prosper in a 21st century economy,

        • by pla (258480) on Monday January 20, 2014 @12:37PM (#46014643) Journal
          The geek may be well on the way to be as marginalized by a minority and aging white population as the GOP.

          Funny thing about "minorities"...

          When a small percentage of the population has nothing particularly special to offer the rest of the population, we worry about them becoming marginalized and ignored, possibly even subject to prejudice.

          When a small percentage of the population has something that everyone wants, something that most people don't have the capacity to get for themselves, and especially something that others can't take by force - We call them "elites", not "minorities".


          Now, that said, I have no doubt that some day - probably within my lifetime, though hopefully not before I retire - computer programming will become a task best performed by computers themselves. At that point, this particular elite may well lose their status; until then, if you want your Twitter and your Facebook and your GMail and your YouTube and your MineCraft and your online porn, you will pay the IT elites pretty much whatever they ask for.
      • Re:Alarming? (Score:4, Informative)

        by sfkaplan (1004665) on Monday January 20, 2014 @12:02PM (#46014181) Homepage

        Fact? Prove it.

        Here's a counter: In the mid-80's, women earned more than 1/3rd of the CS degrees. Have women changed and become less interested in

        Don't mistake the need to address the troubling demographics in CS with oversimplied assumptions that (for example) the numbers should all be perfectly proportional. I don't need the field to be 50% women, but that past evidence suggests that it should be at least 35%, as it once was.

        • A counterpoint: In the mid-80s, computers were "the next great thing." It may not have been as "sexy" as being a doctor or a lawyer, but the way people talked about it, especially to students, it was all about the cha-ching. Barely anything was standardized beyond ASCII and the newly revenged IBM BIOS, and every big company would need their own hackers to bang away on their AS/400s and write purpose-built COBOL code, and pay handsomely those who could do it.

          30 years later, computers are ubiquitous. We're st

      • by sjbe (173966) on Monday January 20, 2014 @12:22PM (#46014463)

        A lack of women or minorities in a particular field is not a "problem" which needs to be fixed.

        You should not be so certain of that. The question is NOT should more women be in CS (or engineering in general) but rather why do not more women enter in the first place? The reason we care about the answer is because of the subtext question which is "are we getting the best possible people into the field?". It is reasonable to ask if we are unintentionally (or intentionally) driving talented women away from the field who might otherwise make valuable contributions.

        Fact: People who want to study CS will enroll in CS classes. People, regardless of race or gender, who have no interest in CS, will not enroll in CS classes or take CS tests.

        That is true but it isn't really the question being asked. The question is WHY does CS tend to skew so heavily male? I've got an engineering degree and the only field that seems to skew more heavily male is the catholic priesthood. I had many classes where less than 5% of the students were women. As a professional it is quite uncommon for me to run into female engineers. Unlike activities requiring raw physical strength, engineering does not obviously confer any physiological advantage to men so it seems reasonable to ask why so few women enter the field? No one has a definitive answer so far but that merely indicates that the question is a difficult one, probably with a multi-factorial answer. Perhaps the answer is uninteresting and things are fine the way they are but we don't know that unless we ask the question and search for the answer.

    • by Bigbutt (65939)

      Hey now, watch it. You'll wind up the ladies and you'll be sent to your "room".

      IT Needs More Women!

      [John]

    • It's also OK that most nurses and primary school teachers are women.
    • by dhasenan (758719)

      Trace it back to each dropoff point.

      Is the percentage of female senior software engineers appreciably smaller than the percentage of female software engineers? That's a red flag for discrimination.

      Is the percentage of recently graduated female software engineers appreciably smaller than the percentage of female CS students? That's a red flag for discrimination.

      Is the percentage of female CS graduates appreciably smaller than the percentage of incoming female CS freshmen? That's a red flag for discrimination

    • by ranton (36917)

      Why is it alarming? People are different, genders are different. What's alarming is that every single job has to be 50-50% by law it seems. Oh except low-paying grunt jobs then it's OK that only men apply there.

      It is alarming whenever a significant portion of the population is not contributing to any field. But it is important to look at each field and determine how important it is to take action. If we determine that women are under-represented in the logging or fishing industries, that isn't a big deal. It is unlikely that we are missing out on great advances or productivity increases in those industries because women very rarely perform these jobs. We should still react to overt discrimination in these fields,

      • by Bigbutt (65939)

        Actually if you look at the statistics, when women enter a field, they tend to advocate for the job to become safer which decreases the injuries _everyone_ can get.

        Think about something like firefighting (to just snag an example). Instead of one guy carrying another, there might be new tools or techniques to permit a safer carry for the injured. Less likely to cause a debilitating injury to a single guy. Something like that is investigated, designed, and created because women are part of the equation.

        So per

    • by Guppy06 (410832)

      genders are different.

      If upper body strength was of critical importance to CS, that might be a meaningful argument. Otherwise, "genders are different" has been used entirely too long to justify entirely too much discrimination to be taken seriously in this day and age without some serious proof to back up why it is (and should be) a legitimate factor in this case.

  • by sandytaru (1158959) on Monday January 20, 2014 @10:41AM (#46013107) Journal
    How recent is the CS AP exam? I couldn't take CS classes at my high school - I graduated in '98 and high school level comp sci wasn't even a thing yet except at specialty schools. So, the exam itself is probably less than 15 years old - I suspect it's much newer than that.

    AP exams also cost money to take, and they're only worth it if the college you're planning to attend accepts it in exchange for credit. How many colleges accept a passing AP exam score to opt out of Comp Sci 101?
    • by Anonymous Coward

      I took AP Computer Science AB exam in either 1995 or 1996. It was given in PASCAL. Though I did very well on it, by the time I was Freshman in college (in 1998), all it qualified me to do was take a 1-credit "C for PASCAL programmers" course. According to Wikipedia, some version of the AP CS exam has been given since 1984.

    • by JP205 (263673)
      I took the exam around '99 and I'm sure it was around before that. Yes, not every high school offers classes in computer science. I think we only had it because our teacher was a big proponent of it and our school district was very well funded to say the least. There where only five or six students who actually took the AP course with me, two where female, and two where minorities.
    • I took it in 1986 (Score:5, Interesting)

      by crow (16139) on Monday January 20, 2014 @11:06AM (#46013397) Homepage Journal

      I took the AP Computer Science exam in 1986. The class was very popular in my high school, but there wasn't room for a lot of students, so the class was offered during zero-hour, before most classes started. That meant to be in the class, you had to show up an hour early for school.

      And interestingly, this was at Boise High School, and Idaho is one of the states cited in the original article. Apparently there were still only 50 students taking the exam last year. We had a third of that number back in 1986 from just my school, though I suspect we were the only school in the state to offer the class.

    • I couldn't take CS classes at my high school - I graduated in '98 and high school level comp sci wasn't even a thing yet except at specialty schools.

      I went to high school in suburban Pittsburgh. I graduated in 1991. I took my first "CS" class in 7th or 8th grade. We're talking mid-80s. It was a BASIC programming course on a TRS-80 [wikipedia.org] Model 2.

      Granted, I think it's a bit heavy handed to call it computer science but we did learn some BASIC. I already had a VIC-20 at home so it wasn't anything new to me aside f
    • I was an undergrad in the 90s. I got almost a year worth of college credit from AP exams, including 10 hours of engineering calculus, and the full freshman year of CS classes (I just did CS as a minor, so that got me almost half way there). Things may have changed since then. At the time, it was true that being able to pass the exam required somewhat different skills than passing the classes, but neither was a great measure of ones ability to write quality code, much less step back and put together a qualit

      • by goodmanj (234846)

        Good for you. How many of your classmates drove BMWs to school? Sorry I'm not trying to be catty, but that much attention to AP only happens at well-funded schools with prosperous, college-focused students. Not so much rich, just "adequate", which is rare in rural America.

        • I didn't take the HS classes for all the AP exams I took, but since I went to high school inside the beltway, I certainly agree that I was not an example of a rural student. Living in a densely populated area certainly helped to be close to where they gave the exams.

          As to BWM count, I have no idea- it's not something I cared about. I got my 70s toyota for $50 and fixed it up (little things like being to see the road through the floor were disconcerting and I fixed- overall appearance not so much). It was re

    • by Nidi62 (1525137)
      I graduated in 2005 from a Math, Science, and Technology magnet program and I don't remember AP CS being offered at all.
    • by jrumney (197329)

      Are you serious? In the country that gave us companies like IBM, and Microsoft, and the internet you didn't have Computer Science as an elective in most high schools as recently as 15 years ago? Computer studies (as it was then known) was offered when I started high school in 1984, and had been for a couple of years already in every high school in my small town in New Zealand. It was however treated more like technical drawing than the main science subjects, in that the students who were pushed towards it w

    • Most colleges accept APCS for credit. Of the top 5 CS schools (Stanford, Cal Berkley, Carnegie Mellon, U of I, and MIT) only MIT doesn't accept APCS, but MIT doesn't accept any AP exams.
    • by mcmonkey (96054)

      This is not a recent addition to the AP schedule. AP CS has existed at least as far back as the mid 1980s.

      As for acceptance, according the College Board, "AP is accepted by more than 3,600 colleges and universities worldwide for college credit, advanced placement, or both on the basis of successful AP Exam grades. This includes over 90 percent of four-year institutions in the United States."

      Even if a school doesn't offer credit, having the course on your schedule (or having an AP test score if taken Junior

    • by fermion (181285)
      AP Calculus is offered by about 12,000 schools, while AP Computer Science is about 2000. This is fewer than practically any other course. It is not a popular course. I don't know, given that it is taught in Java, if it is a relevant course.

      Students often take AP courses not because they are interested in studying the material in college, but because they aren't. For instance many people take AP calculus and AP Physics and AP English, etc, so they can 'test out' of the freshman courses, not only to sav

  • the real reason (Score:3, Interesting)

    by slashmydots (2189826) on Monday January 20, 2014 @10:45AM (#46013141)
    Almost no colleges offer credit for taking AP tests regardless of score so high schoolers have absolutely no reason whatsoever to take those tests. You can either study for just your real final exams that actually go into your grades or you can add in an even harder test that benefits you in no way. Hmm, tough one. Oh and they typically charge money to take the tests as well.
    • >Almost no colleges offer credit for taking AP tests regardless of score so high schoolers have absolutely no reason whatsoever to take those tests.

      Perhaps they want to learn stuff. College credit isn't the only reason for doing things.

      • Perhaps they want to learn stuff.

        Why would they need to take crappy tests in order to learn stuff? Sounds like they aren't too interested in the subject if they aren't just going to learn about it on their own.

      • by LihTox (754597)

        You don't have to take the AP test to take the corresponding AP class. (And usually the AP classes are free, while the AP tests are definitely not.)

    • Re:the real reason (Score:5, Informative)

      by bluegutang (2814641) on Monday January 20, 2014 @10:54AM (#46013251)

      Almost no colleges offer credit for taking AP tests regardless of score so high schoolers have absolutely no reason whatsoever to take those tests.

      That's completely false. Here are AP credit policies for a couple top universities. The first two I checked, as a matter of fact. Both give credit for most AP exams, both in terms of class placement, and in credits for graduation.

      http://apo.fas.harvard.edu/icb/icb.do?keyword=k73580&pageid=icb.page388448&pageContentId=icb.pagecontent1194786&view=view.do&viewParam_name=asgeninfo.html [harvard.edu]
      http://admission.universityofcalifornia.edu/counselors/exam-credit/ap-credits/index.html [university...fornia.edu]

    • by sjbe (173966) on Monday January 20, 2014 @11:01AM (#46013323)

      Almost no colleges offer credit for taking AP tests regardless of score so high schoolers have absolutely no reason whatsoever to take those tests.

      That's not remotely true. Each college has their own policies on if/how they accept AP classes for college credit but many do give credit for AP courses. I coach about 20 high school students in a sport and about 2/3rds of them take at least some AP courses. (smart group of kids, average GPA is around 3.6) Quite a few colleges accept them if your score is high enough. Furthermore AP classes can be beneficial in getting certain scholarships even if they aren't accepted for credit.

      Oh and they typically charge money to take the tests as well.

      Many states and municipalities subsidize the cost of taking these exams. Even unsubsidized, the cost of the exams in 2013 was $89 which is hardly prohibitive for a lot of students. Nearly half a million students took the AP English exam in 2013.

    • by Nidi62 (1525137)

      Almost no colleges offer credit for taking AP tests regardless of score so high schoolers have absolutely no reason whatsoever to take those tests.

      Huh? I went into my freshman year of college already having 21 credits from AP exams. And while the tests did cost money they were really cheap, and some tests were bundled together, such as micro and macro econ.

    • Almost no colleges offer credit for taking AP tests regardless of score so high schoolers have absolutely no reason whatsoever to take those tests. You can either study for just your real final exams that actually go into your grades or you can add in an even harder test that benefits you in no way. Hmm, tough one. Oh and they typically charge money to take the tests as well.

      That's not true at all. You can go to the College Board website [collegeboard.org] and search by school to find what they offer credit for. I got half a semester of credit from AP exams when I was in high school.

    • by _Ludwig (86077)

      Even if colleges don’t give class credits for them, they still look good on an application.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    "World to End; Women, Minorities Hardest Hit"
  • by MobyDisk (75490) on Monday January 20, 2014 @10:57AM (#46013287) Homepage

    This is an Advanced Placement exam, so we expect few people will take it. You only take this exam if:
    - You are going into the field
    - You went to a school that taught the advanced stuff
    - You have an interest in that as a major
    - You think you will pass it
    - Your intended college will give you something for it

    So when very few students take it, that isn't a big problem. I bet the next headline on this topic will be in a few years from now, when some organization has 50% of the population taking the exam and they want to either lower the passing criteria because so few students pass it, or change the test because everyone teaches to the test and colleges stop accepting it because it is a useless measure.

    You mostly increase participation in this test by making sure that those students who meet the above criteria are aware of it. I know people who may have passed it, but never knew it was available or were intimidated by it, etc.

    • by mjr167 (2477430)

      But the exam administrators need to charge money for people to take it and if students aren't taking it then they can't get that spiffy new boat...

      When I graduated college I could answer yes to all those questions and I still didn't take the exam. I didn't take the exam cause it was stupid and I had better things to do like take other AP tests. And if it matters, I'm a girl.

      I wanted to test out of courses like English and German so I didn't have to take all those annoying gen ed requirements. Freshman co

      • by MobyDisk (75490)

        Interesting. I took Comp Sci AP specifically because I wanted to get out of those annoying intro to computer science classes. To me, college was an opportunity to learn real stuff and I didn't want to waste it sitting with 100 other students relearning the basics. Boredom was my undoing in school.

  • "But the thing is, CollegeBoard AP CS exam records indicate that no Wyoming students at all took an AP CS exam (xls) in 2013, and only a total of 103 Utah students (xls) had reported scores. Let's not forget about the girls and underrepresented minorities, but since AP CS Exam Stats are being spun as a measure of CS education participation (pdf) and equity, let's not forget that pretty much everyone has been underrepresented if we look at the big AP CS picture."

    That's the point. They don't care about "non

  • by Chrisq (894406) on Monday January 20, 2014 @11:03AM (#46013361)

    shouldn't the goal at this stage of the game really be CS education for all?

    If you really mean Computer Science rather than general IT skills or computer literacy then no. True some subject should give a taster of what computer science involves, but most people need to understand computer science to do what they do with computers as much as they need to understand automotive mechanics to drive or fluid dynamics to run their washing machine.

  • by theodp (442580) on Monday January 20, 2014 @11:06AM (#46013401)

    AP CS stats spin [latimes.com] in Sunday's LA Times by a member of Code.org's Advisory Board: 'Unfortunately, only a narrow band of students - predominantly white and Asian males - is developing the necessary skills to step into these high-paying jobs in computer science. Latinos, African Americans and girls of all ethnic backgrounds are being left behind. In 2013, 29,555 students took the Advanced Placement computer science exam, but only 18% were female, 4% African American and 3% Mexican American...A great majority of today's computer scientists started down their career paths because of "preparatory privilege."'

  • by Chrisq (894406) on Monday January 20, 2014 @11:07AM (#46013409)
    Don't they realise that the IT industry runs on coffee!
  • You don't get it. (Score:5, Informative)

    by goodmanj (234846) on Monday January 20, 2014 @11:18AM (#46013529)

    I went to a large, fairly rural high school in a not-particularly-poor area. We had AP U.S. history and AP English. That's it.

    Many of you (especially those of you who read and write the New York Times) come from adequately-funded suburban schools, and while you've watched The Wire and think you know what urban schools are like, you have no idea how weak the educational programs at rural high schools are.

    • by iggymanz (596061)

      Weak? a high school will do well by its students if it focuses on the basics: writing, reading, arithmetic, general science, history, speaking.

      There is no need for special computer science or computer use or engineering program. Those with a hunger for such things will get the knowledge themselves. I did.

    • by dbc (135354)

      I went to a high school that sounds similar to yours, so I understand what you are saying. My high school was the fourth largest school district in the state -- in square miles -- but graduating classes were under 200 students. There is a huge opportunity for change, and rural schools like that can lead the way. Clayton Christensen wrote a book called "Disrupting Class" which outlines possibilities for education reform that could be achieved in the next few years. With the advent of so many online classe

  • The AP exam rate for this course might not be a very good metric at all for measuring how many kids are going to go into CSci for their undergrad. When I did my undergrad I found that the AP credits I qualified for generally were only applied if they were for courses outside my major. Hence if you had a qualifying AP CSci score but majored in CSci it didn't count, while if you were majoring in something else it did.

    What my high school classmates and I did with this information, then, was use it to justify taking AP tests in our non-major courses so we could get out of some of the LibEd coursework that would otherwise fill up our undergrad schedules when we could otherwise be taking higher-level math and science courses.
    • I did the AP for Calculus. Tested out but I knew exams were BS so I took Calculus in college. It could have been a different course. The difference was HUGE. The AP thing is a total scam and colleges should not accept it. We were ONLY taught to the AP test.

      One single multiple guess exam is not going to measure the result of a college course understanding of a subject. It should be obvious, high school kids do not have the work requirements or motivation that colleges can easily demand. Sure, some do but

  • by Zeorge (1954266) on Monday January 20, 2014 @11:45AM (#46013899)
    No, really. It's like with math. If you are serious about either the CS or other science field you go and take those classes at a community college. The HS program is built around the low-common denominator. The rationalization to spend money on programs that will have a low ROI is not there. You are going to need a school district with a lot of kids and with a lot of kids interested in sciences in order to promote the better science programs. This is how you get the magnet schools where they pool all these like minded kids together as it's more effective, money wise, to have these programs in one location. Spreading them out over an entire school district would be costly and would ultimately be under utiltized. So, if you are really good at math and computer science, etc, the best option for everyone is to go to a commuity college and take those courses. Not only will you learn more, the equipment will probably be better, and, you can actually transfer these credits into a four-year program. I think a solution would be for a HS to focus on being a HS and for kids that have the talent refer them to a better equipped facility, at no additional cost to the parents.
  • I took a breast feeding class when we had my first child. I do not produce the milk in my family, however, and while there may be few ladies entering some technical fields in certain schools, I suspect that it's more to do with a BAD SCHOOL than with some barrier to women actually getting into a computer course.

    Nobody tried to stop me from taking a course in breast feeding, though I didn't see a lot of dads in the class. Shocking.

  • by trongey (21550) on Monday January 20, 2014 @02:13PM (#46015721) Homepage

    "shouldn't the goal at this stage of the game really be CS education for all?"
    - shouldn't the goal at this stage of the game really be Art History education for all?
    - shouldn't the goal at this stage of the game really be Macroeconomics education for all?
    - shouldn't the goal at this stage of the game really be Diesel Mechanic education for all?"
    -
    -...

  • by JustNiz (692889) on Monday January 20, 2014 @05:20PM (#46017881)

    This is asymmetric bullshit.
    Where, for example, are all the calls for affirmative action to encourage more white men into nursing? (which is 91.4% filled by women, and health is a field that African Americans are more likely to work in than any other )?

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