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Education Stats United States

Average HS Student Given Little Chance of AP CS Success 293

Posted by timothy
from the inopportunity-for-all dept.
theodp (442580) writes AP Computer Science is taught in just 10% of our high schools," lamented The White House last December as President Obama kicked off CSEdWeek. "China teaches all of its students one year of computer science." And the U.S. Dept. of Education has made the AP CS exam its Poster Child for inequity in education (citing a viral-but-misinterpreted study). But ignored in all the hand-wringing over low AP CS enrollment is one huge barrier to the goal of AP-CS-for-all: College Board materials indicate that the average 11th grader's combined PSAT/NMSQT score of 96 in reading and math gives him/her only a 20%-30% probability of getting a score of '3' on the AP CS exam (a score '4' or '5' may be required for college credit). The College Board suggests schools tap a pool of students with a "60-100% likelihood of scoring 3 or higher", so it's probably no surprise that CS teachers are advised to turn to the College Board's AP Potential tool to identify students who are likely to succeed (sample Student Detail for an "average" kid) and send their parents recruitment letters — Georgia Tech even offers some gender-specific examples — to help fill class rosters.
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Average HS Student Given Little Chance of AP CS Success

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  • Not a shocker. (Score:4, Informative)

    by B33rNinj4 (666756) on Monday June 16, 2014 @07:18AM (#47244781) Homepage Journal
    Well, when US schools put emphasis and financial focus on sports, something has to be cut or ignored. I live in Texas, and have seen middle schools with larger stadiums than what I had at my high school in Michigan. Sadly, throwing more money at the problem won't solve it, because it's too ingrained in our culture.
  • by ShanghaiBill (739463) on Monday June 16, 2014 @07:25AM (#47244825)

    They keep mentioning AP but its not actually written anywhere what this abbreviation stands for.

    "AP" means "Advanced Placement". It is basically a college level class taught in high school, and intended for advanced college-bound students. The "news" in TFA is that "average" students would have difficulty in these classes. In other news: the sky is blue.

  • by afidel (530433) on Monday June 16, 2014 @09:21AM (#47245585)

    allowing it (and its tuition) to be skipped

    LOL, oh you're serious, let me laugh harder. If you think skipped courses due to AP credits reduce the number of hours needed to graduate at the vast, vast majority of schools you're mistaken. No, it will just let you skip an intro course and fill the hours requirement for your major for something a little less dull.

  • by AthanasiusKircher (1333179) on Monday June 16, 2014 @10:08AM (#47246063)

    LOL, oh you're serious, let me laugh harder. If you think skipped courses due to AP credits reduce the number of hours needed to graduate at the vast, vast majority of schools you're mistaken. No, it will just let you skip an intro course and fill the hours requirement for your major for something a little less dull.

    False.

    Heck, it's even on the official AP exam website [collegeboard.org]:

    You can save money and get a head start on your degree when you enter college with credit youâ(TM)ve already earned through AP.

    But if you're not convinced, let's look at some of the top schools in the U.S., and what they will do for a person with AP credit. Harvard [harvard.edu] says the following:

    Students may be allowed to use an AP exam score (or appropriate international credential) to meet certain requirements (foreign language, introductory departmental course, etc.).

    Students with a full yearâ(TM)s worth of advanced workâ"documented by AP exams, an IB diploma, or certain other international credentialsâ"may be eligible to petition for Advanced Standing. The College grants four Harvard full-course credits, the equivalent of a year of study, to those students who activate Advanced Standing.

    In other words, you not only can pass out of a number of requirements, but you can also skip an entire year of college... at one of the top colleges in the U.S.

    Even MIT [mit.edu], which is notorious for having one of the most restrictive AP policies in the U.S., will still give you credit for and let you pass out of the first semester of calculus or physics (both required of all MIT graduates) with sufficient AP scores. And you'll get unrestricted credit that can count toward miscellaneous electives you need for your degree or whatever for some other AP tests (e.g., humanities).

    Bottom line: At the "vast, vast majority of schools," many AP courses WILL reduce the number of credits you need for graduation, as well as allowing you to skip intro classes.

    You're right that many schools will still require you to take something else within your major to fulfill a minimum set of required credit hours. But you'll often still be able to use miscellaneous AP credits toward random electives.

    Seriously -- do at least a minimum of research before you show your ignorance while wrongly making fun of somebody.

  • Re:Teacher here.... (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 16, 2014 @12:25PM (#47247355)

    I'm a college math and CS professor who taught a section of AP CS at the local high school this year as a "favor" for the town.

    My impressions are simple. AP CS is way too involved for an AP course. There is a new AP CS (AP® Computer Science Principles) which will be more accessible. This can't come soon enough. One of the above poster's is correct; only someone who has a good amount of programming/tinkering experience will get a 4 or a 5. The average computer gamer who thinks he'd like to pick up some programming before college will not pass. That needs to change. AP CS should help get students interested in CS while getting them to understand that CS is not using MS Word and Excel. I'm excited to play with the AP CS Principles. Hopefully it'll get more students interested in picking up a CS course or two in college.

What this country needs is a dime that will buy a good five-cent bagel.

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