Posts tagged ‘APCS’

Python is the most popular intro language: But what about CS Principles?

Philip Guo did an analysis of what top CS departments teach in their introductory courses (see link below) and found that Python now tops Java.  MATLAB tops C and C++ (though not if these are combined), and Scheme and Scratch are near the bottom.

Philip’s analysis did include CS0 and CS1 courses, which points to a problem for adoption of CS Principles as an Advanced Placement exam.  Scratch is the only one of the popular CS Principles languages now used in the CSP Pilots that is also being used in CS departments.  Other CSP popular languages include App Inventor, Alice, Processing, JavaScript, and Snap!.  Those don’t appear in Philip’s results to any significant degree.

It’s reasonable to say that an AP will only succeed (e.g., students will take it) if they can get credit or placement for the exam in college or university.  Typically, colleges and universities give credit for courses that are currently taught.  Will we see colleges and universities start teaching CS Principles?  Will they give credit for a course that they don’t teach? For languages they don’t teach?  Maybe we’ll see more of an influx of CSP languages and courses into colleges and universities. I predict that we won’t.

Scratch is the only visual, blocks-based language that made this list. It’s one of the most popular languages of this genre, which include related projects such as Alice, App Inventor, Etoys, Kodu, StarLogo, and TouchDevelop. The creators of these sorts of languages focus mostly on K-12 education, which might explain why they haven’t gotten as much adoption at the university level.

via Python is now the most popular introductory teaching language at top U.S. universities | blog@CACM | Communications of the ACM.

August 3, 2014 at 9:45 am 38 comments

2014 AP Exam Score Distributions: AP CS had a big increase, bimodal scores

Barb will probably do her demographic analysis in the Fall. Gas Station Without Pumps analysis on raw scores is out now and is quite interesting.

The Computer Science A exam saw an increase of 33% in test takers, with about a 61% pass rate 3, 4, or 5. The exams scores were heavily bimodal, with peaks at scores of 4 and at 1.  I wonder whether the new AP CS courses that Google funded contributed more to the 4s or to the 1s. I also wonder whether the scores clustered by schools, with some schools doing a decent job of teaching Java syntax most of what the AP CS exam covers, so far as I can tell and some doing a terrible job, or whether the bimodal distribution is happening within classes also.  I suspect clustering by school is more prevalent. The bimodal distribution of scores was there in 2011, 2012, and 2013 also, so is not a new phenomenon.  Calculus BC sees a similar bimodal distribution in past years—the 2014 distribution is not available yet.

via 2014 AP Exam Score Distributions | Gas station without pumps.

July 13, 2014 at 8:25 am 1 comment

AP in Career and Technical Education: They go together

If states offer career and technical education in pathways (typically 3-4 courses) with a pathway completion exam, they are eligible for Perkins legislation funding to pay for staff and equipment.  If AP CS is one of those courses, it’s easier to build the pathway (2-3 courses to define, rather than 3-4) and the pathway is more likely to lead to college-level CS, if a student so chooses.  But as the below report mentions, many states believe that Perkins legislation disallows the AP to count.  It can, and here’s the report describing how.

If you’re hearing this story in your state, be sure to send your department of education this report!

Career and Technical Education and Advanced Placement (July 2013, PDF)

Traditionally Advanced Placement® (AP) courses and exams have not been recommended for students in Career Technical Education (CTE) programs. This paper, jointly developed and released by NASDCTEc and the College Board aims to bust this myth by showing how AP courses and exams can be relevant to a student’s program of study across the 16 Career Clusters®.

via National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education Consortium : Policy & Legislation : Issue Briefs & Papers.

April 9, 2014 at 1:15 am 2 comments

Candidate for Massachusetts Governor pushing CS Ed

An interesting piece on “The importance of expanding CS Education in Massachusetts.”  I’m particularly interested in her use of AP CS data to argue for the need to broaden access to computing education.

In July, the Boston Globe reported that, of the nearly 86,000 Advanced Placement tests taken by high school students in Massachusetts, only about 900 were in computer science. This is far too low for a state that aspires to lead the world in technological innovation.

Part of the problem is that, too often, students simply don’t have the interest, or the basic computer skills, necessary to tackle higher-level computer science courses. But the greater challenge, across all levels, is that we do not have enough computer science teachers, so students who are interested are left out in the cold. In 2012, more than half of all students who passed the computer science AP exam came from just 14 high schools around the state, meaning that the other 364 high schools in Massachusetts accounted for only around 275 students who passed the exam.

via Boston Governor Martha Coakley Economy, Education & Job Creation Platform | BostInno.

March 18, 2014 at 1:05 am Leave a comment

Studying under-representation in AP CS from the perspective of a single state

Mihaela Sabin at University of New Hampshire Manchester took Barb’s AP analysis, and produced a version specific to New Hampshire.  Quite interesting — would be great to see other states do this!

  • 77% exam takers passed the test, which is closer to the upper end of the 43% – 83% range reported across all states.

  • Only twelve girls took the AP CS exam, which represents 11.88% of all AP CS exam takers. This participation percentile of girls taking the exam is 4 times smaller that female representation in the state and nation.

  • Half of the girls who took the exam passed. 82% of the boys who took the exam passed.

  • One Hispanic and two Black students took the AP CS exam. The College Board requires that a minimum of five students from a gender, racial, and ethnic group take the test in order to have their passing scores recorded.

  • 2012 NH census data reports that Blacks represent 1.4% of the state population and Hispanics represent 3%. Having two Black students taking the test in 2013 means that their participation of 1.98% of all AP CS exam takers is 1.4 times higher than the percentage of the Black population in the state of NH. However, Hispanics participation in the AP CS exam of 0.99% is 3 times lower than their representation of 3% in the state.

nh-underrepresentation-hs-computing-education – Google Drive.

March 17, 2014 at 1:10 am 6 comments

New ACM Report on the Need for CS in K-12

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.

via ACM Report – Rebooting the Pathway to Success.

March 5, 2014 at 11:55 am 2 comments

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.)

Project Rise Up 4 CS: Increasing the Number of Black Students who Pass Advanced Placement CS A

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.

March 5, 2014 at 1:28 am 3 comments

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