CB South’s New AP Course

Troy Klauder, Contributing Writer

The College Board has designed a new Advanced Placement course for the 2016-17 school year, and it’s coming to CB South. Next fall, South will be offering the brand new AP Computer Science Principles course.

According to the College Board, “AP Computer Science Principles is a new computer science course designed to give students foundational computing skills, and an understanding of the real-world impact of computer programming and innovations.”

Lucinda Sanders, the CEO of the National Center for Women and IT, stated that CS Principles “will cover the foundational principles of computing in a way that is rigorous, accessible, engaging and inspiring,” in her letter of endorsement for the course.

Mr. Szarko and Mr. McGlone will be teaching the 18-week course. AP Computer Science Principles will complement AP Computer Science A, which CB South already offers.

The College Board website states that by taking AP CS Principles with the current AP Computer Science A course, “students will experience a rich computer science program that will prepare a more diverse student population for the demanding skills in STEM and computing fields of study.”

While AP Computer Science is focused specifically on the Java language, CS Principles will give students more freedom in the programming languages they choose to learn.

Students do not need any prior programming experience to take AP CSP but are recommended to have completed Algebra II before enrolling.

The AP Exam, which takes place in May, will consist of two parts: a paper-and-pencil multiple choice exam and two performance tasks that are submitted online.

Many colleges have shown their support for CS Principles through developing a credit policy for the AP Exam. These schools include the University of Pennsylvania, Drexel University, Carnegie Mellon University, Lehigh University, and the College of William and Mary.

Sophomores entering CB South have a limited selection of Advanced Placement courses in program planning. However, CS Principles will be offered students of any grade level at South.

“The goal down the road is to promote it for students going from 9th to 10th grade,” said Mr. Szarko. “It gives students a choice earlier on in their high school career to take an AP course.”

For now, though, Mr. Szarko recommends the class to students of any grade level, including current sophomores and juniors. He even recommends the class to juniors currently taking AP Comp Sci.

The new course contains “things that you don’t normally talk about in a programming course,” said Mr. Szarko.

“AP Computer Science Principles aims to appeal to a broader audience,” said Lien Diaz, the College Board’s Senior Director for AP Computer Science, in a National Science Foundation announcement.

“With how pervasive technology is today in our society, it’s good for anybody to have exposure to how it works,” Mr. Szarko said. “People take it for granted that they go on their phone, they want specific information, and they get it. But nobody knows how you get it.”

Mr. Szarko said the course is “open to a broader population of students that might not be Comp Sci majors.”

The College Board, alongside Code.org, aim to use AP Computer Science Principles to “make computing accessible for all students and empower them to develop skills critical to many 21st century careers,” according to the Code.org website.

In his announcement of Code.org’s partnership with the College Board, Code.org founder Hadi Partovi said, “Before leaving high school, every student deserves the opportunity to learn computer science and understand how it can help them lead in any career, regardless of whether they want to be software engineers or not.”

AP CSP will supplement the College Board’s effort to increase the representation of women and minorities in science, technology, engineering, and math fields.

Trevor Packer, Vice President of the Advanced Placement Program, said in a letter that “The goal of the proposed AP CSP Principles Course is to foster a wider appeal for the CS discipline and better prepare STEM majors.”

According to Barbara Ericson, Senior Research Scientist at Georgia Tech, less than 20 percent of AP Computer Science A Exam takers were female, and less than three percent were African-American.

The College Board’s website states that “The AP Program designed AP Computer Science Principles with the goal of creating leaders in computer science fields and attracting and engaging those who are traditionally underrepresented with essential computing tools and multidisciplinary opportunities.”

Diaz said, “Jobs in computing are truly the jobs of our nation’s future, and it’s critical that we ensure that students of all backgrounds have the opportunity and preparation to take them on.”