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Education Technology

The Whole Story Behind Low AP CS Exam Stats 325

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'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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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 20, 2014 @10:49AM (#46013189)

    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.

  • 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. [] []

  • 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.

  • 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.

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

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


    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: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.

Marvelous! The super-user's going to boot me! What a finely tuned response to the situation!