Posts tagged ‘APCS’
ACM has just released a report arguing for the need for computer science in K-12 schools. They are very strongly making the jobs argument. The appendix to the report details state-by-state what jobs are available in computing, the salaries being paid for those jobs, and how many computing graduates (including how many AP CS exams vs other AP exams were taken in 2013) in that state.
The report Rebooting the Pathway to Success: Preparing Students for Computing Workforce Needs in the United States calls on education and business leaders and public policy officials in every state to take immediate action aimed at filling the pipeline of qualified students pursuing computing and related degrees, and to prepare them for the 21st century workforce. The report provides recommendations to help these leaders join together to create a comprehensive plan that addresses K-12 computer science education and that aligns state policy, programs, and resources to implement these efforts.
SIGCSE Preview: Project Rise Up 4 CS: Increasing the Number of Black Students who Pass AP CS A — by paying them
I’m guessing that Barbara’s paper on Friday 1:45-3 (in Hanover FG – whole program here) is going to be controversial. She’s working on a problem we’ve had in GaComputes for years. Besides Betsy DiSalvo’s work on Glitch, we’ve made little progress in increasing numbers of Black students taking AP CS A and even less progress in getting more of them to pass the test.
She’s had significant progress this last year using an approach that NMSI used successfully in Texas and elsewhere. She’s offering $100 to Black students who attend extra sessions to help them pass the exam and who do pass the exam. She’s expanding the program now with a Google RISE grant. Her approach is informed by Betsy’s work – it’s about going beyond interests to values and giving students help in navigating past their motivations to not-learn. She does have aspects of the project in place to counteract the disincentives of cash payments for academic achievement. In the final interviews, students didn’t talk about the money. It may be that the money wasn’t an incentive as much as a face-saving strategy. (Barb’s preview talk was also recorded as part of a GVU Brown Bag.)
This paper describes Project Rise Up 4 CS, an attempt to increase the number of Black students in Georgia that pass the Advanced Placement (AP) Computer Science (CS) A exam. In 2012 Black students had the lowest pass rates on the AP CS A exam both in Georgia and nationally. Project Rise Up 4 CS provided Black students with role models, hands-on learning, competitions, a financial incentive, and webinars on AP CS A content. The first cohort started in January of 2013 and finished in May 2013. Of the 27 students who enrolled in the first cohort, 14 met all of the completion requirements, and 9 (69%) of the 13 who took the exam passed. For comparison, in 2012 only 22 (16%) of 137 Black students passed the exam in Georgia. In 2013, 28 (22%) of 129 Black students passed the exam in Georgia. This was the highest number of Black students to pass the AP CS A exam ever in Georgia and a 27% increase from 2012. In addition, students who met the completion requirements for Project Rise Up 4 CS exhibited statistically significant changes in attitudes towards computing and also demonstrated significant learning gains. This paper discusses the motivation for the project, provides project details, presents the evaluation results, and future plans.
SIGCSE Preview: Measuring Demographics and Performance in Computer Science Education at a Nationwide Scale Using AP CS Data
Barbara and I are speaking Thursday 3:45-5 (with Neil Brown on his Blackbox work) in Hanover DE on our AP CS analysis paper (also previewed at a GVU Brown Bag). The full paper is available here: http://bit.ly/SIGCSE14-APCS This is a different story than the AP CS 2013 analysis that Barbara has been getting such press for. This is a bit deeper analysis on the 2006-2012 results.
Here are a couple of the figures that I think are interesting. What’s fitting into these histograms are states, and it’s the same number of bins in each histogram, so that one can compare across.
Fitting this story into the six page SIGCSE format was really tough. I wanted to make the figures bigger, and I wanted to tell more stories about the regressions we explored. I focused on the path from state wealth to exam-takers because I hadn’t seen that story in CS Ed previously (though everyone would predict that it was there), but there’s a lot more to tell about these data.
Figure 1: Histograms describing (a) the number of schools passing the audit over the population (measured in 10K), (b) number of exam-takers over the population, and (c) percentage of exam-takers who passed.
Measuring Demographics and Performance in Computer Science Education at a Nationwide Scale Using AP CS Data
Abstract: Before we can reform or improve computing education, we need to know the current state. Data on computing education are difficult to come by, since it’s not tracked in US public education systems. Most of our data are survey-based or interview-based, or are limited to a region. By using a large and nationwide quantitative data source, we can gain new insights into who is participating in computing education, where the greatest need is, and what factors explain variance between states. We used data from the Advanced Placement Computer Science A (AP CS A) exam to get a detailed view of demographics of who is taking the exam across the United States and in each state, and how they are performing on the exam. We use economic and census data to develop a more detailed view of one slice (at the end of secondary school and before university) of computer science education nationwide. We find that minority group involvement is low in AP CS A, but the variance between states in terms of exam-takers is driven by minority group involvement. We find that wealth in a state has a significant impact on exam-taking.
Here’s a great answer to the under-representation on the AP CS — the College Board (with funding from Google) will offer grants to help start AP programs, including AP CS (see details for AP CS for STEM Access).
AP STEM Access Program: In fall 2013, the College Board implemented the AP STEM Access program in 335 public high schools across the country. With the support of a $5 million Google Global Impact Award to DonorsChoose.org, these schools started offering new AP math and science courses with the goal of enabling underrepresented minority and female students who have demonstrated strong academic potential to enroll in and explore these areas of study and related careers. Over the next three years, the AP STEM Access program will give an estimated 36,000 students the opportunity to study college-level STEM course work in these newly offered AP classes.
NYTimes: Tech’s Diversity Problem Is Apparent as Early as High School – interview with Barbara Ericson
On the ongoing thread of media coverage over Barbara’s analysis of AP CS 2013 exam results, this is a standout. The NYTimes had a blog post interviewing Barb, and they did a nice job. They highlighted not just the outliers (like Wyoming with no test-takers) but the interesting trends (there used to be a good number of AP CS exam takers in Wyoming).
Even in California, where it would seem that more children would be exposed to adults working in computer science, just 22 percent of test takers were girls, 1.5 percent were black and 8 percent were Hispanic.
The A.P. data also shows how the situation in computer science has worsened over time. In Wyoming, for instance, no high school student of any race or gender took the test, while 35 students took the test there in 2001.
The Atlanta Public Schools has a short article about their involvement in the Hour of Code — and it was all elementary school children. As far as I know, there is no more AP CS in any Atlanta Public high school. I’m wondering if the emphasis on “starting early” is having an unexpected effect. Are schools seeing activities like Blockly and Scratch as elementary school activities, and computer science belongs there, not in high schools?
As members of the APS IT department went out to observe students throughout the district participating in the Hour of Code they observed computer science education at its finest. Students were actively engaged in challenges that required them to utilize high level problem solving and critical thinking skills. Students identified and found ways to correct their mistakes until they were successful in completing the activity.
Lavant Burgess, a fifth grader at E.L. Connally Elementary, stated, “I like how it made me think. I had to keep using different strategies to figure out how to get the robot to the right squares.”
The chart below (above, here in the blog) shows the ratio of boy to girl test-takers across AP exam subjects. In subjects whose bars do not reach the orange line, girls outnumber boys. In subjects where the bar extends past the orange line, boys outnumber girls.
All the press coverage of Barbara Ericson’s AP CS 2013 exam results analysis has led to a lot of discussion among my Facebook friends. The results are even more telling than the raw numbers.
- Rebecca Dovi and Ria Galanos, both exceptional AP CS high school teachers and both in Virgina, started comparing notes on the Hispanic students who took the AP CS exam from that state. They could name half of them. Looks like those two teachers were responsible for half of the Hispanic exam takers from Virginia.
- Why is that Tennessee has ranked so well for female AP CS exam takers among all the states? It is due to one exceptional AP CS teacher, Jill Pala, who teaches at an all-girls school. Barb verified this claim. Jill’s class generated 30 of the 71 female exam-takers in Tennessee. Without Jill, Tennessee would be in the middle of the pack. With Jill, they have the highest percentage of female AP CS exam-takers among all the states.
On the one hand, what a wonderful statement about the impact that a single exceptional teacher can make! Hey, states that want to raise their exam taker numbers — go hire yourselves a Rebecca, Ria, or Jill! Or provide the professional development to grow your own!
On the other hand — our numbers are SO small that a single teacher can make the difference for a whole state. There were 2103 schools that passed the AP CS audit in 2012. That’s probably exactly the number of AP CS teachers, too. There were 11,694 schools that passed the audit for AP Calculus! Great teachers matter in Calculus, too. But there are so many teachers, an individual teacher probably can’t make or break a whole state’s ranking. Wouldn’t it be nice for AP CS to be in that position?
Part of the continuing media response to her AP CS 2013 analysis, Barb was on HLN Weekend Express yesterday talking about the gender gap in AP CS. The video is linked below. My favorite part was where she told the national audience that Georgia Tech considers CS fundamental and requires it for everyone.
Barbara Ericson, director of computing outreach at Georgia Tech, has made a startling claim. She said not one female student in three states – Mississippi, Montana and Wyoming — took the Advanced Placement exam in computer science last year.
Ericson appeared on Weekend Express to discuss the gender gap and explains why more women aren’t interested in computer science.
The scope of the Chicago plan is impressive. In case you thought that the idea of offering foreign language credit for CS was a joke, it’s being considered as part of the Chicago plan. The rationale for the plan is interesting: Arguing that it’s about national competitiveness, and about democratization.
On the first day of Computer Science Education Week, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and CEO Barbara Byrd Bennett announced the most comprehensive K-12 computer science education plan in a major school district. This plan includes creating a pipeline for foundational computer science skills in elementary schools, offering at least one computer science class at every high school, and elevating computer science to a core subject.
“This plan will help us compete with countries like China and the UK, where children take coding classes in elementary school, and create an environment where we can help support the next Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, and Marissa Mayer,” said Mayor Emanuel. “By democratizing computer science, we are leveling the playing field for all children to have the same skills, appetite to learn, and access to technology to excel in this growing field.”
The K-12 program will expand student access to computer science literacy over the next five years. The program will include:
- In the next three years, every high school will offer a foundational “Exploring Computer Science” course.
- In the next five years, at least half of all high schools will also offer an AP Computer Science course.
- Chicago will also be the first US urban district to offer a K-8 computer science pathway, reaching one in four elementary schools in the next five years.
- Within five years, CPS will allow computer science to count as a graduation requirement (e.g. possibly as a math, science, or foreign language credit). Only thirteen other states have elevated computer science to a core subject instead of an elective.
There has been a lot of media attention to Barb’s analysis of AP CS 2013 exam data, but not all of it has been well-informed. We both really enjoyed reading the Gas Station Without Pumps analysis, quoted and linked below. Not only is it a careful, model-based analysis, but it’s a nice explanation too. I learned more about how to measure under-representation — recommended reading.
There are states that do have significant under-representation of women: for example, Utah had 103 test takers, only 4 of whom were women. With an expected number of about 51.5, this is p<1.4E-16. Even with 51× multiple hypothesis correction, this under-representation is hugely significant. Looking nationwide, total counts were 5485 female test takers out of 29555 total test takers. That’s p< 1.4E-1677. The highest percentage of female test takers was in Tennessee, with 73 out of 251, which is p< 2.6E-7, again highly significant.
Tennessee also had a high proportion of black test takers with 25 out of 251. With an expected number of 42.12, this is p<0.003 (still significantly under-represented). To see if black students were under-represented nationwide, one would have to add up the expected numbers for each state and see how the actual number compared with the expected number.
Barb does her analysis of AP CS data every year, but for some reason, her 2013 analysis has really taken off with the media. I’m going to use this post to track the ones I’ve found.
- The EdWeek piece is interesting because it includes a response from the College Board: http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/curriculum/2014/01/girls_african_americans_and_hi.html?cmp=SOC-SHR-TW
- The Atlantic did an interview with Barb that worked out quite well: http://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2014/01/techs-gender-and-race-gap-starts-in-high-school/282966/
- Just learned about the Slate article this morning. http://www.slate.com/blogs/future_tense/2014/01/13/no_women_took_the_ap_computer_science_exam_in_mississippi_montana_and_wyoming.html
- Yes, it’s on Slashdot. That’s not always a pleasant thing. I realized it was there when I suddenly had 500 readers in my blog on a Sunday (about five times a normal load).
If you find others, please send them my way and I’ll update here. If anyone’s interested, our more SIGCSE 2014 paper with more detailed analysis (e.g., controlling for state population, doing a six year historical view of six states, and using regression analysis to explore the relationship of wealth to exam-taking) can be found here: http://bit.ly/SIGCSE14-APCS
Guest post from Barbara Ericson:
I have finished compiling the data for 2013 for AP CS A. You can download the spreadsheet from http://home.cc.gatech.edu/ice-gt/556 The spreadsheet has 3 sheets with detailed data by race and gender. The first sheet is from 2006 to 2013 for selected states. The second sheet is the race and gender information for every state for 2013. The third sheet is the race and gender information for every state for 2012.
Here are some interesting findings from this data:
- No females took the exam in Mississippi, Montana, and Wyoming.
- For states that had some females take the exam the percentage female ranged from 3.88% in Utah to 29% in Tennessee.
- 11 states had no Black students take the exam: Alaska, Idaho, Kansas, Maine, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming.
- The following states had the most Black students taking the exam: 1) Maryland with 170, 2) Texas with 132, 3) Georgia with 129, 4) Florida with 83, 5) Virginia with 78, 6) California with 74, 7) New York with 68, 8) New Jersey with 34 9) Mass with 34 and 10) North Carolina with 28. The pass rates for Black student in these states: Maryland 27.06%, Texas 48.48%, Georgia 21.7%, Florida 19.28%, Virginia 28.21%, California 56.76%, New York 33.82%, New Jersey 47.06%, Mass 38.24%, and North Carolina 21.43%.
- The pass rate for Black students in states that had at least 5 Black students take the exam ranged from 19% (Florida) to 75% (Alabama) with 6 of 8 passing.
- 8 states had no Hispanic students take the exam: Alaska, Idaho, Kansas, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, and Wyoming.
- The following states had the most Hispanic students taking the exam: 1) Texas with 751, 2) California with 392, 3) Florida with 269 , 4) New York with 150, 5) Illinois with 142, 6) New Jersey with 96, 7) Virginia with 90, 8) Maryland with 88, 9) Georgia with 71, and 10) Mass with 56. In report the Hispanic numbers I cam combining the College Board categories of Mexican American, Other Hispanic, and Puerto Rican. The pass rate for Hispanic students in these states: Texas 44.47%, California 47.45%, Florida 44.61%, New York 35.33%, Illinois 39.44%, New Jersey 52.08%, Virginia 46.67%, Maryland 44.32%, Georgia 40.85%, and Mass 39.29%
You can also see historical data for all states for AP CS A at http://home.cc.gatech.edu/ice-gt/321
Director, Computing Outreach
College of Computing
This is a big deal that the Supreme Court is facing this week. The NYTimes is in support of striking down the Michigan constitutional amendment. Let me put the below statistic in a bit of CS Ed context. As mentioned previously, UMich just graduated last year the first Black female CS PhD. Barb’s analysis of AP CS stats includes Michigan. Michigan has 9.8 million residents. It is 14.3% Black. In the last six years, only 27 Black students have taken the AP CS exam, never more than 7 in any year.
A decade ago, the University of Michigan waged a successful U.S. Supreme Court fight to save affirmative action. Now Michigan is learning to live without it.
Three years after the court allowed race-based admissions, Michigan voters blocked them at state schools through a ballot initiative. The result is fewer black students crisscrossing the Diag, the wide space that cuts through the heart of the university’s Ann Arbor campus. Black enrollment is down about 30 percent at the undergraduate and law schools.
The announcement is good news:
Congratulations Tennessee! This year, for the first time, the State of Tennessee Board of Education allows high school computer science courses to count towards graduation requirements. Now, Advanced Placement Computer Science A satisfies a math requirement for all high Tennessee high school students.
Then there’s a claim later on the same page, “In these states, enrollment in computer science is higher (particularly among women and students of color), compared to the other states.” That claim is intriguing. Where’d they get this data? I’d love to get CS enrollment data by state! So I followed the link to this PDF.
Where I found this graph:
I don’t know where one can get AP CS class size data. I’ve not seen that from the College Board. As far as I can tell from the AP Report to the Nation, the College Board doesn’t have enrollment data. What could they be counting to get these results, using variables from the College Board?
The numbers looked close to something that I’d seen in Barb’s data. So, I tried an analysis with Barb’s spreadsheet of AP CS data. I created a “CountsCS” variable (1=on the Code.org list, 0=everyone else), and looked at the number of AP CS test takers in a state divided by the number of schools passing AP CS audit in the state. I think of this as the “yield” — the number of actual test-takers by teacher (assuming one teacher per school, which is pretty much the rule for AP CS). Below are the yield distributions for 2012 (with average and +/- standard deviation). These numbers look pretty close to the above, so I’m guessing that this is what they’re counting (for some year previous to 2012). It is true that the average yield (not enrollment) for CountCS states is higher than for non-CountCS states. There isn’t a statistically significant difference, though (using t-test with a 95% confidence interval).
It could be that these distributions will become more distinct over time. Some states (like Tennessee) have just made CS count. It will take years to see an impact.
Digging deeper, I looked at the number of test-takers by state in terms of whether the state counts CS. Below is the distribution. There is on average more test-takers in states that count CS, but the distribution is broad. There isn’t a statistically significant difference.
Given that the test-takers are not significantly different based on whether a state counts CS or not, I didn’t think that the minority or female numbers would either. It is true that there are on average more women test-takers from states that count CS, but the distribution is large. The difference is not statistically significant. The CountCS states include Vermont (which had 1 female AP CS test-taker in 2012), but does not include North and South Dakota, each of which had 2 female AP CS test-takers in 2012. (Alaska, Mississippi, Montana, and Wyoming all had zero female AP CS test-takers, and none of them count CS.) I didn’t see significant differences based on under-represented minority groups.
If we really want to show that counting CS matters, we’d really want to do it a different way entirely. We should compare the same state pre/post making the decision to count CS. Even then, we’d want to give it a few years to filter through the system (e.g., Juniors and Seniors in high school are unlikely to change their plans for graduation to take CS as soon as it counts). I do believe that counting CS towards high school graduation will increase the number of students taking CS, but measuring that impact is challenging.