Archive for November 18, 2010

Barbara Ericson on the Rise in AP CS

The AP CS data for 2010 is now out, and Barb sent out updates to the Georgia high school CS teachers on her mailing list and to the AP list.  I’m combining those messages below, with her permission.

Dear Teachers,
Thanks to your hard work we had 692 students take the CS AP A exam in Georgia in 2010.  This is compared to 583 in 2009.  That is a very nice increase and the largest number of students who have ever taken the CS AP A exam.  The mean score in 2010 was 2.83 while it was 2.65 in 2009, so we see an improvement there.
We had 118 females take the exam in 2010 versus 110 in 2009, so a slight increase in the total numbers.  The female mean score was 2.46 versus 2.9 for the males (a drop from 2.47 in 2009 for the females).  The number of Blacks who took the exam in 2010 was 68 versus 69 in 2009.  The mean scores for Blacks improved from 1.39 to 1.66.  The number of Hispanics who took the exam in 2010 was 30 versus 27 in 2009.
To see the detail on the 2010 data see

Since the number of schools offering AP CS A has been dropping since 2007-2008 I am glad to see that the number of students taking the exam has increased and that there has been some improvement in performance.  But, we still have a long way to go to catch up to Calculus.  In 2010, 7256 students took the Calculus AB exam and 2164 took the BC exam.  I am also very concerned that the current number of schools offering AP CS A has dropped substantially from last year (71 to 59).  It is even more important for schools to recruit students for AP CS A and especially more females and under-represented minorities.
I have put a spreadsheet that has the number of AP CS A exams taken in each state from 1998-2010 at  This is based on data from the College Board at It shows that most states had an increase in the number of exams in 2010, but not all.
Maryland continues to steadily increase (they never had a decrease) and has the highest number of students taking the exam by percentage of the population.  Texas has the largest number of exam takers at 3,392 followed by California at 2,793.  But, 28 states still have less students taking the exam than they had at some point in the previous years. And, 25 states had less than 100 people take the exam in 2010 and of those 11 states had less than 25 people take the exam.
Access to AP CS A is certainly not universal in our country.  We also clearly still have a problem with gender and race.  I challenge each AP CS A teacher to specifically recruit females and under-represented minorities.  The PSAT data should be available in Dec or Jan.  Find out how to get access to the data at your school and create letters for the parents of female and under-represented minorities that are identified to have AP potential.  I have some sample letters at  Feel free to modify these and use them.  You should also hand deliver a letter to each female student and minority that you are trying to recruit.  There are also good materials for women about computing at and at

November 18, 2010 at 9:29 pm 10 comments

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