The National Science Foundation (NSF) and the College Board are currently partnering in the design and development of CS Principles, a new Advanced Placement (AP) Computer Science (CS) course, focusing on the underlying principles of computing. It is academically rigorous, and it has been designed from the beginning to be engaging and inspiring across a diverse student population. The course has been piloted at the high school and college levels and it has received significant support from the computing community, including high school teachers, university faculty, and professional organizations such as the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), the Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA), and the National Center for Women and Information Technology (NCWIT). Work is proceeding on development of the exam for the new course, which is expected to be available in the spring 2017.
The course alone, though, will not be enough; few schools have teachers with computer science backgrounds. The NSF, through its CS 10K Project (10,000 CS teachers in 10,000 schools by 2016), has been laying the foundation for an unprecedented, national effort to prepare teachers to teach this new material, and to teach it using engaging, hands-on and inclusive curricula.
The College Board commits to partner with NSF in this professional development effort, by building a comprehensive set of online teaching resources and professional development curricula for teachers, giving them the support they will need to prepare their students for success with the CS Principles exam. This preparation will be particularly important in light of the exam format, which includes for the first time, a digital portfolio created throughout the academic year. The effort will complement and significantly strengthen NSF and other efforts aimed at providing all US students with access to rigorous computer science courses.
The following is an outline of the launch of various resources supporting professional development for AP CSP teachers:
Completion of CS Principles Teaching Guides-curriculum materials for AP course implementation and professional development -all available online.
Revision of Teaching Guides based on teacher feedback complete. Materials linked with the larger online CS 10K Community of Practice for CS teachers.
-Course Planning and Pacing Guides are developed. These guides will highlight the components of the AP CSP Curriculum Framework - the learning objectives, course themes, computational thinking practices -are addressed in the course. These guides will also provide valuable suggestions for teaching the course, including the selection of resources, instructional activities, projects and investigations, and assessments.
-Consultant training begins
-Course & Exam Description is developed: details the essential information required to understand the objectives and expectations of the AP CSP course
-Practice Exam, sample student responses, AP Course Audit Curricular Requirements, Syllabus Development Guide, & Sample Syllabi are developed
-Begin one-day workshops, online workshops - focusing on course content and skills in the AP CSP curriculum framework.
-Begin AP summer institutes: These are College Board endorsed institutes to ensure quality and consistency, and facilitators are College Board endorsed consultants.
-AP Online Teacher Community launches: teachers discuss teaching strategies, share resources, and connect with each other
-Online Annotated Resource Guide is launched
The supporting technology for the AP CSP exam will be completed by spring 2016. The launch of the AP CSP course is scheduled to begin in fall 2016 with the first AP CS Principles exam administered in May 2017.
The National Science Foundation (NSF) and the College Board are partnering to design and launch an innovative new course in thousands of American high schools that will engage students from diverse backgrounds, particularly female and minority students traditionally under-represented in computing careers and industries. Students will create a digital portfolio of work throughout the academic year, with high scores on this assessment qualifying them for advanced placement at hundreds of prestigious colleges and universities.
Computing is pervasive in our society. Information technology (IT) innovation drives our economy, underlies recent advances in science and engineering, and promises transformational approaches in addressing our most serious challenges, including healthcare, education, and environmental remediation. Computational skills-the ability to create and apply computational approaches in problem solving-are increasingly in demand. In the United States, we teach less computer science in our high schools than we did two decades ago [NAEP].
Most American high schools do not offer rigorous, computing courses, but instead provide just basic IT literacy. Students are not exposed to the underlying concepts of computation, to the creative aspects of algorithm and software design, or to potential applications of computation across a wide range of disciplines. Thus our students-and most especially girls and minorities-do not have counters to the popular misconceptions that computer science is just programming, that it is just for males, and that it provides little benefit to society.
To remain globally competitive, the United States must build and maintain a professional IT community prepared to lead the world in IT innovation and an informed citizenry ready to make important decisions on the role and limits of technology in our society. Our challenge as a nation is to scale high-quality computer science curriculum, along with high quality instruction, to reach all high school students.
Scaling the College Board and National Science Foundation efforts to reach all US students will require a broad public/private partnership. It will need considerable resources to support professional development at the necessary scale. It will need teachers, guidance counselors, and school administrators to support and promote the courses. University faculty could persuade their university to recommend computer science for incoming students, and their departments to offer credit or placement for CS Principles; they could also develop online textbooks and materials. Faculty and graduate students could mentor teachers or facilitate online communities of practice for teachers. Undergraduates could provide outreach to high school students. IT professionals could work with schools to provide realistic applications and role models. Industry could provide cloud access and/or supplementary equipment (laptops, robotics kits, mobile devices, etc.) that would make the classroom experience richer. Local community groups could advocate for policy changes around getting credentials for more CS teachers and the crediting of more CS courses.