APCS-P - Bigger Intake Or Leaky Pipe

Advanced Placement Computer Science got top billing on Alfred Thompson's Things I'm Watching in 2017 post. Alfred talks about how APCS-P exploded onto the scene and wonders what will happen with APCS this year.

I have some questions as well but mine won't be answered for years to come, if ever.

Like it or not, the College Board has an out sized influence on K12 education. As long as people are convinced that AP=good there will be a push for more and more AP classes and APCS-P is a perfect class to push. CS is the hot topic in K12, the topic is getting a big push from both politicians and industry, the class has no pre-requisites and in spite of being called a college course is somehow appropriate for a typical tenth grader.

The concern here is that at the end of the day. APCS-P is an exam or rather an exam plus two other assessments. The quality can vary greatly. I've heard of APCS-P implementations that seem pretty rigorous and I've seen implementations that are, quite frankly, a joke. The question is this: is APCS-P both motivating kids to go on to the next level and just as importantly preparing them to succeed at that level?

We might never know.

A high school might only offer APCS-P. If APCS-A isn't offered, we might not know if the student went on to take more CS and we won't know if the student succeeded or not. I've seen this with some very high profile, popular, after school/summer non-profits. The kids have a great time and the non-profits rave about how much their kids learn but then the kids take a real CS class in school and drop like flies. Was it the teacher/professor or did the non-profit set the kids up to fail by convincing them they knew a whole lot more than they did and that CS was super easy all the time.

If credit is given for APCS-P, it looks like it will be blanket credit. CS majors and minors will still have to take all the same classes in college and CS so it will be very hard to tell if APCS-P is responsible for any uptick in CS.

At the end of the day, the College Board is going to make a lot of money but if APCS-P becomes the standard high school CS course will this leave us with true, quality CS4All? I have my doubts.


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