STEM Equity

Number of Female Students, Students of Color Tackling Computer Science AP on the Rise

row of students working on computers

The College Board has released some preliminary data on the Advanced Placement Computer Science Principles assessment for 2019. Three years after the launch of the course and its exam, according to the nonprofit, participation has more than doubled. Over the same period, the number of female students and students of color tackling AP CSP also more than doubled. The total number of students who took the AP CSP exam in 2019 was 96,105.

In the three years since its launch, the number of female students participating in AP CSP has increased 136 percent, from 13,328 to 31,458. The number of those students getting a passing score of 3 or higher has risen 133 percent since 2016-2017.

The number of black/African American students participating in AP CSP is also on the rise, increasing 121 percent since the course launched, from 2,981 to 6,589 in 2019. The number of black/African American students who scored a 3 or higher has increased 118 percent since 2016-2017.

Among Latinx students, participation in AP CSP rose 125 percent, from 8,334 to 18,780, over the three-year period, and the number of those achieving a passing score increased 116 percent.

The College Board said that AP CSP participation has also boosted the number of students studying computer science and persisting in CS in high school when it's available. Those who tackle the AP CSP exam were also almost six times more likely to take Computer Science A, the other AP CS course, compared to other AP STEM examinees, and about 15 times more likely than non-AP STEM examinees.

"We need more students ready to shape technology, not just cope with it," said Stefanie Sanford, the College Board chief of global policy and external relations, in a statement. "AP Computer Science Principles is inviting a broader, more diverse set of students to master technology and write the code of the future."

The College Board said more complete data on other AP exams would be available "in a few months."

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.