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

March 17, 2014 at 1:10 am 6 comments

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.

Entry filed under: Uncategorized. Tags: , , .

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6 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Alfred Thompson  |  March 17, 2014 at 8:29 am

    14 high schools sent test takers for AP CS in a state with 70+ public high schools and 60+ private high schools (not counting special ed only schools). So only about 10% of high schools had any APCS students.

  • 2. Michael S. Kirkpatrick  |  March 17, 2014 at 10:37 am

    Interpreting anything from ratios of percentages can be so sketchy. The numbers above suggest that black representation is just fine (1.4 times higher than population percentage), while we need to triple the hispanic participation for good representation. But with only 2 and 1 student from each group, is that really accurate? Yes, you included the raw numbers, too, but can we really draw anything meaningful from the ratios?

    • 3. gasstationwithoutpumps  |  March 17, 2014 at 6:02 pm

      Obviously, the small expected numbers mean that even 0 would not be a significant under-representation. The math for binomial distributions is not hard.

      (see )

      • 4. Michael S. Kirkpatrick  |  March 18, 2014 at 10:44 am

        While I will readily admit that I could use a statistics review (it’s been about 20 years…and though I’ve done plenty of probability calculations, I haven’t really touched any of the statistical analysis since), I can’t say that I appreciated the condescension. Furthermore, I would ask you to note that my comment was about the presentation of the data, not the data itself. I.e., I do not find that presenting a ratio of percentages is helpful in this case.

        • 5. gasstationwithoutpumps  |  March 18, 2014 at 11:20 am

          If you check the date on the post, you’ll see that I wrote it long before your comment, so it wasn’t directed specifically at you. In fact, I was agreeing with you—ratios of percentages are meaningless when the numbers are small.

          • 6. Michael S. Kirkpatrick  |  March 25, 2014 at 8:46 am

            OK, I see. I apologize for the accusation, then. I did see the date on your post, so I knew it wasn’t written toward me. It was the juxtaposition of linking to the post with the “math for binomial distributions is not hard” that led to my misinterpretation.


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