Archive for March, 2015

Computer Science Looks Beyond Nerds: Yeah, we still need to say it

The comments from students in the article below from Duke are just like the ones I hear from my students when I ask them how our introductory class is going. “Way better than I expected” and “I thought it would be all geeky” and “I can see using this!”  You’d think with all the press about computing education these days that we would wouldn’t still have to explain all of this, but yeah, we do.

“I thought I would be surrounded by tech geeks who sat alone at their computers all day,” Walker said. “But I came to realize that computer science lets you do things that are applicable to all sorts of fields.”

Now she’s using her new computational savvy to expand a nonprofit she founded in high school to raise money for an elephant sanctuary in Thailand.

“You wouldn’t think that running a nonprofit requires a lot of technical skills, but it does,” she said. “You get a problem and you think, ‘I could solve this on paper and it would take me 25 hours, or I can write one line of code and all of a sudden there’s my answer.’ The efficiency of it is super cool.”

via Computer Science Looks Beyond Nerds | Duke Today.

March 30, 2015 at 8:24 am 1 comment

The Day the Purpose of College Changed: What was the impact on CS Education?

The article linked below makes the argument that then-Governor Ronald Reagan changed perception higher education in the United States when he said on February 28, 1967 that the purpose of higher education was jobs, not “intellectual curiosity.”  The author presents evidence that date marks a turning point in how Americans thought about higher education.

Most of CS education came after that date, and the focus in CS Education has always been jobs and meeting industry needs.  Could CS Education been different if it had started before that date?  Might we have had a CS education that was more like a liberal education?  This is an issue for me since I teach mostly liberal arts students, and I believe that computing education is important for giving people powerful new tools for expression and thought.  I wonder if the focus on tech jobs is why it’s been hard to establish computing requirements in universities (as I argued in this Blog@CACM post). If the purpose of computing education in post-Reagan higher education is about jobs, not about enhancing people’s lives, and most higher-education students aren’t going to become programmers, then it doesn’t make sense to teach everyone programming.

The Chronicle of Higher Education ran a similar piece on research (see post here).  Research today is about “grand challenges,” not about Reagan’s “intellectual curiosity.”  It’s structured, and it’s focused.  The Chronicle piece argues that some of these structured and focused efforts at the Gates Foundation were more successful at basic research than they were at achieving the project goals.

“If a university is not a place where intellectual curiosity is to be encouraged, and subsidized,” the editors wrote, “then it is nothing.”

The Times was giving voice to the ideal of liberal education, in which college is a vehicle for intellectual development, for cultivating a flexible mind, and, no matter the focus of study, for fostering a broad set of knowledge and skills whose value is not always immediately apparent.

Reagan was staking out a competing vision. Learning for learning’s sake might be nice, but the rest of us shouldn’t have to pay for it. A higher education should prepare students for jobs.

via The Day the Purpose of College Changed – Faculty – The Chronicle of Higher Education.

March 27, 2015 at 7:50 am 13 comments

AP is a national curriculum: Lawmakers Vote Overwhelmingly To Ban AP US History

Oklahoma isn’t the only state picking a fight over AP US History. Georgia’s legislators just introduced a similar bill (see article here).  I disagree with what they’re doing, but I do agree with the argument below.  The Advanced Placement program is a kind of “national curriculum.”  That’s why efforts like CS Principles are so valuable — they impact many schools across the country all at once.  My PhD advisor, Elliot Soloway, argues that it’s past time to establish national curricula (see article here), and he’s probably right.  The American political sentiment goes strongly against that perspective.

For other lawmakers, however, Fisher is thinking too small. Oklahoma Rep. Sally Kern (R) claims that all “AP courses violate the legislation approved last year that repealed Common Core.” She has asked the Oklahoma Attorney General to issue a ruling. Kern argues that “AP courses are similar to Common Core, in that they could be construed as an attempt to impose a national curriculum on American schools.”

via Oklahoma Lawmakers Vote Overwhelmingly To Ban Advanced Placement U.S. History | ThinkProgress.

March 25, 2015 at 7:34 am 1 comment

First Computing Education Research NSF CAREER Awards from CISE

The Computer and Information Sciences and Engineering (CISE) directorate of the National Science Foundation (NSF) has been giving early CAREER awards for decades, but this is the first year that they actively sought computing education awards.  Kristy Boyer and Ben Shapiro are awardees — our first CISE-side NSF CAREER awardees in computing education!  This is a big step towards establishing computing education within CS departments.


Photo by Shuchi Grover

Here are pieces of their project summaries, to give you a sense of what they’re doing.  Thanks to both of them for providing me with these, and CONGRATULATIONS!  They’ve done a great service to our community by helping to explain computing education to the CISE community.

Kristy Boyer: A rich body of evidence suggests that collaborative learning holds many benefits for computer science students, yet there is growing recognition that neither collaborative learning itself, nor the innovative curricula in which it may be situated, are “magic bullets” capable of single-handedly solving the computing pipeline problem. In contrast to being a one-size-fits-all solution, collaborative learning is highly dependent upon characteristics of the collaborators and on fine-grained interactions.

Intellectual Merit : The overarching research question of the CS-CLIMATE project is, “How can we identify and support the facets of collaborative dialogue that are particularly effective for fostering learning,sense of identity, motivation, and continued engagement for diverse computer science learners?” The project will investigate this question through three thrusts:

1. Collect a rich set of computer science collaborative learning data. The project will leverage the ASCEND learning environment, built in the PI’s lab, which supports remote collaboration with textual natural language dialogue, synchronized code editing, and integrated repository control for two or more collaborators. Partnering with three participating institutions: North Carolina State University, Meredith College (an all-women’s institution), and Florida A&M University (a minority-serving university with 90% African American enrollment), the full suite of collected data will also include student characteristics of gender, race/ethnicity, personality profile, and achievement goal orientation, while measures of outcomes include learning, sense of computing identity, motivation, and engagement.

2. Examine the fine-grained facets of collaborative dialogue that are particularly effective for diverse computer science learners. By leveraging machine-learning frameworks for dialogue analysis developed within the PI’s lab, the project will see the creation of fine-grained, theoretically informed models that capture collaborative dialogue and problem solving phenomena associated with learning, identity development, motivation, and engagement.

3. Implement and evaluate evidence-based pedagogical support for fostering effective collaborative dialogue. The project will extract a set of evidence-based pedagogical strategies for fostering effective collaborative dialogue tailored to student characteristics. These evidence-based pedagogical supports will be evaluated through quasi-experimental studies. It is hypothesized that CS-CLIMATE pedagogical support will significantly improve learning, sense of identity, motivation, and continued engagement for students overall, and for women and African American students in particular. In addition to testing this primary hypothesis, the project will produce fine-grained sequential analyses and rich qualitative findings that further the state of knowledge about how diverse students learn computing.

Broader Impacts : The project’s central goal is to foster effective collaboration for underrepresented groups in computing, focusing on women and African American students. The project partners with a 100% women’s college and a HBCU that is 90% African American, partnerships grounded in and facilitated by the STARS Alliance for which Boyer is a founding Executive Steering Committee member. The project will make substantial impact by building research capacity: Boyer has a track record of mentoring diverse graduate and undergraduate students. The project’s software and data, including the ASCEND learning environment and the CS-CLIMATE pedagogical support suite, will be released to the community. Finally, it is anticipated that the project will produce significant theoretical and practical advances that lead to a deeper understanding of how diverse students learn computing. Serving as the foundation for many future years of the PI’s faculty career, the project has the potential to transform the way collaboration is incorporated into computer science education.

Ben Shapiro:Constructing Modern and Inclusive Trajectories for Computer Science Learning

Research in computer science education and software engineering points to three acute problems:

  1. Programmers, even experienced ones, struggle to reason about and correctly implement systems that include parallel and/or distributed computing.
  2. A severe lack of diversity: Women, African-Americans, and Latinos are grossly under-represented.
  3. A striking disconnect between the systems and communities that have been successfully engineered to engage broad populations in computing (e.g., Scratch) and the tools and practices of university, industry, and open-source computing.

These problems raise the following question: How can we create new ways into computer science for distributed computing, broaden participation, and support transitions into mainstream computer science?

I propose to investigate this broad question through the following activities:

  1. Inventing life-relevant ways into distributed computing for youth. Middle and high school students will solve problems by building networks of cyber-physical systems that communicate with each other.
  2. Investigating how distributed computing can broaden participation in CS. Under-Represented Minority (URM) students will be our partners in co-design (Druin, 1999, 2002; Yip et al., 2012) of the tools and curriculum, as well as participants in design-based research on learning (Collins et al., 1989; Edelson, 2002; DiSessa and Cobb, 2004). My students and I will investigate the effects of URMs’ participation on their interest, self-efficacy, and projective identity within computer science.
  3. Enabling trajectories into mainstream computer science practices. We will construct a toolkit and curriculum (see Section 4) to support youths’ transitions from using beginner-specific programming environments into techniques and tools that are commonly found in university-level computer science education and in industry and open-source community practice.

To do so, I will draw upon my interdisciplinary background in both learning sciences educational research and in computer science, as well as many years of experience on Chicago’s South Side and in Pittsburgh’s Hill District creating new media arts and technology learning environments for African-American youth, to build a software platform and curriculum that enable URM youth to collaboratively design and program distributed systems. I will study their learning, including how they transition from our beginner-specific tools into general-purpose programming languages and practices, and assess whether these activities build participants’ interest and self-efficacy in computer science.

March 23, 2015 at 8:08 am 1 comment

C is Manly, Python is for “n00bs”: Our perception of programming languages is influenced by our gender expectations

Surprising and interesting empirical evidence that language use is mostly gender-neutral. Our expectations about gender influence how we think about programming languages.  These perceptions help explain the prevalence of C and C++ in many undergraduate computing programs.

There is also a gendered perception of language hierarchy with the most “manly” at the top. One Slashdot commenter writes, “Bah, Python is for girls anyways. Everybody knows that PERL is the language of true men.” Someone else responds, “Actually, C is the language of true men…” Such views suggest that women might disproportionately use certain languages, but Ari and Leo found in their programmer surveys that knowledge of programming languages is largely equivalent between genders. Women are slightly more likely to know Excel and men are slightly more likely to know C, C#, and Ruby, but not enough to establish any gendered hierarchy.

via C is Manly, Python is for “n00bs”: How False Stereotypes Turn Into Technical “Truths” by Jean Yang & Ari Rabkin | Model View Culture.

March 22, 2015 at 7:51 am 7 comments

Coding is not the new literacy, modeling is: But modeling needs coding

I buy Chris Granger’s argument here, that coding is not nearly as important as modeling systems.  The problem is that models need a representation — we need a language for our models.  The point is modeling, but I don’t think we can have modeling without coding.  As Michael Mateas said, there will always be friction (see post).

We build mental models of everything – from how to tie our shoes to the way macro-economic systems work. With these, we make decisions, predictions, and understand our experiences. If we want computers to be able to compute for us, then we have to accurately extract these models from our heads and record them. Writing Python isn’t the fundamental skill we need to teach people. Modeling systems is.

via Chris Granger – Coding is not the new literacy.

March 20, 2015 at 7:50 am 27 comments

Google makes 6 CS Capacity Awards to address rising enrollment while improving diversity

I mentioned (in a previous blog post) Google’s awards program to fund innovative efforts that deal with rising enrollments in CS while improving diversity.  They’ve just announced the six awardees: CMU, Duke, Mount Holyoke, George Mason, Rutgers, and Berkeley.  The plans include mentor training, teaching fellows, new kinds of class structures (e.g., optional mini-lectures, small group sessions, self-paced elements, and periodic skills demos based on martial arts), new technology tools, and collaboration spaces.

More details are in the Google blog post below.

One of Google’s goals is to surface successful strategies that support the expansion of high-quality Computer Science (CS) programs at the undergraduate level. Innovations in teaching and technologies, while additionally ensuring better engagement of women and underrepresented minority students, is necessary in creating inclusive, sustainable, and scalable educational programs.

To address issues arising from the dramatic increase in undergraduate CS enrollments, we recently launched the Computer Science Capacity Awards program. For this three-year program, select educational institutions were invited to contribute proposals for innovative, inclusive, and sustainable approaches to address current scaling issues in university CS educational programs.

via Research Blog: Google Computer Science Capacity Awards.

March 17, 2015 at 8:49 am 3 comments

My wife is an amazing programmer, and much better than me #LikeAGirl

The Always Super Bowl commercial “Like a Girl” was compelling (see video here).  When did “Like a Girl” become an insult?

The blog post linked below (thanks to Kate Harlan for this) offers several stories of female programmers presumed to be less-of-a-programmer because they’re females.  These are sad stories.

People are generally willing to believe that I can program, since I’m a white, male CS professor who has written programs in the past (e.g.,the original Swiki and Emile). In my family, we all know that Mom is the expert programmer. All three of our kids took AP CS, and they all asked Barb for help, with me only as a last resort.  When we were writing our books, I’d leave notes next to my searching or sorting examples in the LaTeX source for Barb, my co-author: “Yeah, I know that this isn’t quite right.  Can you fix it please?”  I wrote the first version of the Java class files for Media Computation and JES. Then Barb looked at them, tsk-tsk-ed a bit, and made them work well and made them readable.  My wife is an amazing programmer, far better than me #LikeAGirl.

I’m sure that Barbara has had people question her as a programmer, and more than they typically question my abilities as a programmer — while the real ability is the opposite.

One category of reactions that I receive all the time as a programmer that presents as feminine is: No one believes I am a programmer.

I can’t tell you how many people, when meeting me and hearing my profession, tell me that I look like a designer, someone in accounting, someone in marketing, anything but a programmer.

I have been a TA for weekend workshops that teach women to code. My male co-TA’s constantly asked me throughout the workshop how I was enjoying learning to program.

Apparently, presenting as feminine makes you look like a beginner. It is very frustrating that I will either look like not a programmer or look like a permanent beginner because I have programmed since age 8. I have basically always wanted to be a programmer. I received undergrad and grad degrees from MIT. I’ve worked as a visiting researcher in Honda’s humanoid robotics division on machine learning algorithms for ASIMO.

I don’t think that any of these things make me a better programmer; I list them because I am pretty sure that if I were a white man with these credentials or even less than these credentials no one would doubt my programmer status.

via Coding Like a Girl — Medium.

March 16, 2015 at 8:02 am 3 comments

A female computer science major “floored” by the sexism: Valuable first-person perspective

While disturbing, these first-person accounts of the sexism that women face in computing are also fascinating (see another one here and another one here). I haven’t had the experiences, and the accounts give me fresh insights into what others’ experience might be.

But dresses and kimonos stand out in a sea of techie uniforms—jeans and free tech company t­ee-shirts. I noticed I got better feedback from interviewers when I “looked the part.” So on days I had on­ campus interviews, I sacrificed my dresses for boxy company tee­-shirts. Even when I did wear company tee­-shirts, I was sometimes assumed to be a recruiter in the same way women in scrubs are assumed to be nurses.

My high-pitched voice also became an unexpected source of frustration as team meetings became small battlegrounds for respect. At another company (which I prefer not to name), I noticed that management listened more to what my male counterparts had to say even though I was offering insightful feedback. Managers asked my male coworkers about the status of projects, although I was touching all the same files. The guys were praised more on their progress although I was pushing the same amount of code.

via A female computer science major at Stanford: “Floored” by the sexism – Fortune.

March 13, 2015 at 7:34 am 9 comments

Helping states collect data about computing education for landscape reports

Back at the NCWIT meeting last May, we in ECEP (Expanding Computing Education Pathways Alliance) started promoting a four step process for starting to improve computing education in your state (see blog post here):

  1. Find a Leader(s)
  2. Figure out where you are and how you change
  3. Gather your allies
  4. Get initial funding.

Part of Step 2 includes writing a Landscape Report.  Does your state count CS towards high school graduation? As what?  Who decides?  Who can teach CS? Is there a CS curriculum? Do you have a Pathway? Do you have a certificate or endorsement to teach CS in your state? There are several of these available at the CSTA website, such as one from South Carolina and another on Maryland.

ECEP now has a page with resources for gathering data for a landscape report — see below.

Where is your state now? The resources linked below can help you quickly find state-level data about the status of computer science education in your state. These are good starting points for putting together a landscape report that answers common questions on CS education in your state.

via State-level Data for CS Education Advocacy | Expanding Computing Education Pathways.

March 11, 2015 at 8:02 am Leave a comment

WiPSCE 2015 Call for Papers and Participation

Barb and I went to this last year, and it was terrific — diverse and high-quality.

Call for Papers and Participation:

WiPSCE 2015

We invite you to submit a paper, report, or poster for the 10th Workshop in Primary and Secondary Computing Education (WiPSCE 2015) and join us inLondon, United Kingdom, on November 9-11, 2015. WiPSCE aims at improving the exchange of research and practice relevant to teaching and learning in primary and secondary computing education, teacher training, and related research.

Important 2015 Dates

Submission deadline: Monday, June 1

Re-submission deadline: Monday, June 8

Notification of acceptance: Monday, July 27

Submission of revised manuscripts: Monday, September 15

Early Registration deadline: Monday, October 19

Original submissions in all areas related to primary and secondary computing education are invited in the following categories:

  • Full paper (610 pages): expected to meet one of two categories – empirical research papers and philosophical research papers
  • Work in progress (3-4 pages): unpublished original research in progress
  • Practical report (4-6 pages): unpublished, original projects in the field of “primary and secondary computing education”
  • Posters (2 page abstract)

Topics include:

  • Learning: attitudes, beliefs, motivation, misconceptions, learning difficulties, student engagement with educational technology (e.g., visualization), conceptualization of computing
  • Teaching: teaching approaches, teaching methods, teaching with educational technology
  • Content: curricular aspects, learning standards, tools, educational approaches, context relevant teaching, assessment
  • Institutional aspects: establishing and enhancing computing education, professional development

Special Theme:Computing? How young is too young?
For more information, please contact:

Judith Gal-Ezer:

Sue Sentence:

Jan Vahrenhold:

March 9, 2015 at 7:44 am 1 comment

Sorting Is Boring: Computing Education Needs to Join the Real World, like MediaComp and worked examples 

Agree that we get it backwards in computing education.  We ought to do more with worked examples (a form of “word problems”) — see the argument here.  The point of Media Computation has always been to focus on relevance — what the students think that a computer is good for, not what the CS teacher thinks is interesting (see that argument here).

There are people who love math for math’s sake and devote themselves to proving 1 + 1 = 2. There are more people, however, who enjoy using math to prescribe medication and build skyscrapers. In elementary school, we use word problems to show why it’s useful to add fractions (ever want to split that blueberry pie?) or find the perimeter of a square. We wait until college, when math majors choose to devote four years towards pure math, to finally set aside the word problems and focus on theory. We do so because math is a valuable skill that is used in so many different professions and contexts, and we don’t want kids to give up on math because they don’t think it’s useful.

So, why does computer science start with theory and end with word problems?

via Sorting Is Boring: Computer Science Education Needs to Join the Real World | Jessie Duan.

March 7, 2015 at 8:29 am 30 comments

UToronto TA’s and graduate student instructors on strike: Pay and teaching are inversely correlated in Universities today

The graduate student Teaching Assistants and Instructors at the University of Toronto are on strike.  I wouldn’t normally be aware about graduate student labor disputes in other countries, but UToronto has an active CS Education research group and at least one (very) active CS Ed PhD student, Elizabeth Patitsas who was in the ICER Doctoral Consortium last year.  The website on the strike (see link below and here) is interesting in describing the situation for Canadian PhD students, both what’s different than in the US (Toronto PhD students pay tuition — it isn’t waived for them) and what’s similar.  I’ll bet that the fact 3.5% of the university budget pays for 65% of the teaching is just as true in the US.  The Chronicle had an article recently titled Teach or Perish (see link here) with this claim (that I’m quite certain is true where I’m at, success is measured in terms of salary): “While teaching undergraduates is, normally, a large part of a professor’s job, success in our field is correlated with a professor’s ability to avoid teaching undergraduates.”

Graduate students in PhD programs continue to pay full tuition – almost $8,000 – even when they are not enrolled in courses. In return, graduate students receive the ‘privilege’ of underpaid work for the University, a library card, and meetings with supervisors. All comparable universities in North America offer post-residency fees or tuition wavers for graduate students finished with course work. The university rejected our proposals for similar provisions.

CUPE 3902 membership has been without a permanent contract for more than eight months, despite carrying out more than 65% of the teaching across the three campuses at the University of Toronto.

The university allocates a mere 3.5% of its $1.9 billion budget to CUPE 3902 workers, the vast majority of which comes from tuition and taxes.

via We Are UofT.

March 6, 2015 at 8:30 am 1 comment

Starting from the students to build engaging computing courses for non-CS majors: Response to Goldweber and Walker

Michael Goldweber and Henry Walker responded to my blog posts (here in Blog@CACM and here in this blog) in the Inroad blog (see article here). My thanks to them for taking the time to respond to me. I found their comments especially valuable in helping to see where I was making assumptions about common values, goals, and understanding. It’s too easy in a blog to only get responses from people who share a common understanding (even if we violently disagree about values and goals). I found it helpful to get feedback from Dr. Goldweber and Dr. Walker with whom I don’t correspond regularly.

“Pedagogy” isn’t just “how to teach” for me. They argue that their articles are not about pedagogy but about what should be taught in a course that students might take to explore computer science. The page I linked to at the US Department of Education is about evidence-based education, not evidence-based pedagogy. The definition of pedagogy is “the discipline that deals with the theory and practice of education” (Wikipedia link). One meaning of pedagogy is the whole field of education, which is how I meant it in that piece (as in Pedagogy of the Oppressed.) What to teach is part of pedagogy. If we don’t use evidence for making decisions what to teach, we are practicing folk pedagogy.

My larger point was about the role of evidence rather than intuition. Whether we’re talking about how to teach or what to teach, I believe that we have to gather evidence (or in Paulo Freire’s terms, have a dialog with the students and stakeholders). Certainly, we want to gather evidence about the effectiveness of our teaching. We also need to gather evidence when designing education. My background is in education and HCI. For me, “Know thy users for they are not you” is a given in HCI, and “Student-centered” is a given in Education. Both saying suggest that we start with not-me: not the designer, not the teacher, not the domain expert.  But for Dr. Walker, “The starting point is identifying the themes and Big Ideas, not pedagogy.”

The unspoken assumption behind my posts, which may not be shared with Dr. Walker and Dr. Goldweber, is that any CS course for non-CS majors (whether a service, elective, or exploratory course) should aim to increase interest in the field of CS, and especially, should be designed to attract and engage women and under-represented minorities in CS. If we are happy with just having the male white and Asian students that we typically attract now, then sure, Dr. Goldweber’s right — we can just do like Philosophy does and build the course based on what we think is important.

Dr. Walker is absolutely right — there is too little time in a course to fit in everything that we think is important about CS. Even if we leave programming out, there is still too much material. How do we decide which Big Ideas to include?

In my process, I start with the students. What are their life goals and desired careers? What’s needed from computing for them to be successful? What are their values? How can I show that computer science is relevant to those values?  To choose among the ideas of computer science, we should use what the students need.  To teach the ideas that students may not know they need, we should speak to their values.

I disagree with Dr. Goldweber on these points:

The design of a non-major’s course in computing, which is not a service course for some other department/program, should belong in the hands of the CS faculty.  Students electing to explore a discipline take these courses.  Surely, discipline experts are those who can best decide what to present from the discipline.

We can just design courses for non-CS majors based on our own experience and intuition.  We shouldn’t be surprised, then, if we mostly attract white or Asian males and if we fail to engage diverse audiences.  Since all three of us (Dr. Walker, Dr. Goldweber, and me) are white, male, CS professors, I believe that we’re the wrong people to use only our own experience and intuition when designing courses for non-CS majors, for a more diverse student population. Yes, we’re disciplinary experts, but that’s not enough. It is our responsibility to design the courses — on that, we’re agreed. It’s our responsibility to design for the students’ success.

One of my favorite quotes about computing education comes from Betsy DiSalvo and Amy Bruckman. “Computer science is not that difficult, but wanting to learn it is.” (See article here.) If we our goal is for students to learn computer science, we have to figure out will make them want to learn it.

March 5, 2015 at 8:38 am 15 comments

AP CS 2014 Results: Big jumps in participation! Demographics still poor

Every year, Barbara Ericson does an analysis of the AP CS exam demographics by state. The 2013 analysis (see here) got a lot of media attention (see on-going list).  Here’s the run-down for 2014.  Her detailed national analysis (from which I quote in this document) can be found here, and her detailed race and gender analysis (which I include some) can be found here.

Nationally, 37,327 students took the AP CS A exam in 2014. This was a big increase (26.29%) from the 29,555 students who took it in 2013.

  • The number of schools who passed the audit  (which is a reasonable proxy for the number of AP CS teachers) went up by almost 300: 2,525 versus 2,252 the previous year.
  • The number of female exam-takers was 7,458 (20%) which was up from 5,485 the year before (18.5%).
  • The number of black students was 1,469 which was an increase from 1,090 the previous year. The number of Hispanic students was 3,270 up from 2,408 the previous year.

The top 10 states in terms of the number of exams taken were in 2014 were (with their 2014 and 2013 positions listed — Florida rose and Maryland dropped):


But California is also the largest state.  If we control for population, here are the top 10 states by # exams in 2014 / estimated 2012 population / 100,000:


Eight states had a decrease in the number of students taking the AP CS A exam from the previous year: Oregon, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Kansas, Montana, Arkansas, West Virginia, and Maine.

Eighteen states had less than 100 people take the AP CS A exam in 2014, with Wyoming still the only state with no students taking the exam.


Barbara had help from Phil Sands from Purdue this year in doing the demographic analysis.

Females: The top three states with the most women taking the exam in 2014 are:

  1. California with 1599 exams (24%) and a pass rate of 65%
  2. Texas with 1102 exams (24%) and a pass rate of 51%
  3. New York with 504 exams (18.4%) and a pass rate of 56%

The top three states with the highest percentage of females taking the exam are (number of women / number of exams)
Mississippi (1/4 = 25%), Washington (260/1048 = 25%), Oklahoma (42/171 = 25%).

Tennessee, which had 31% female exam-takers in 2012, is no longer in the top ten of states.

No females took the exam in Montana (0 women of 4 exam takers) or Wyoming (but nobody took the exam in Wyoming). Eight more states had at least one woman but less than 10 women take the exam:Mississippi (1/4), North Dakota (1/14), Nebraska (2/71), Kansas (3/40), Alaska (4/30), South Dakota (4/29) and Utah (5/104) and Delaware (7/79).

African American: The top three states that had the most African American students take the exam in 2014 are:

  1. Maryland with 192 exams and a pass rate of 30.2% for African Americans compared to the overall pass rate of 62.1%.
  2. Texas with 161 exams and a pass rate of 40% compared to the overall pass rate of 55.7%.
  3. Georgia with 155 exams and a pass rate of 23% compared to the overall pass rate of 45.8%.

Thirteen states had no African American exam-takers in 2014 (number of African Americans / number of exams)
Alaska (0/30), Idaho (0/58), Kansas (0/40), Maine (0/99), Mississippi (0/4), Montana (0/4), Nebraska (0/71), New Hampshire (0/108), New Mexico (0/61), North Dakota (0/14), South Dakota (0/29), Vermont (0/71), and Wyoming (0/0).

Hispanic: The top three states that had the most Hispanics take the exam in 2014 (the College Board separates this into Mexican American, Puerto Rican, and Other Hispanic)

  1. Texas with 968 and a pass rate of 32% compared to the overall pass rate of 55.7%.
  2. California with 610 and a pass rate of 45.2% compared to the overall pass rate of 67.3%.
  3. Florida with 450 and a pass rate of 39.1% compared to the overall pass rate of 42.5%.

Seven states had no Hispanics take the exam in 2014: Iowa (0/119) which is 5.5% Hispanic by population, Mississippi (0/4) which is 2.9% Hispanic, Montana (0/4), North Dakota (0/14), South Dakota (0/29), West Virginia (0/48), and Wyoming (0/0).

March 4, 2015 at 8:46 am 3 comments

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