So, it turns out that there were 601 perfect scores on this years APCS-A exam. Over on Facebook a great question was raised - what does this mean and should we celebrate this?
What does it mean? There's no way to know. Maybe the number of perfect scores is just scaling up linearly with test takers. Maybe More kids are being exposed to CS prior to APCS-A and that's leading to more correct answers.
There was some buzz over this editorial about the College Board last week. The two codes every child needs - Coding and the US Constitution? Who could argue with that.
I'm not going to disagree. Civics and CS are important and can't wait until college. The thing that left me chilled though was that nobody's paying attention to the fact that the College Board - a private entity with its own interests has so much influence over American education.
I stumbled upon a thread over in the APCS-A Facebook group the other day. It seems that the College Board is making some changes in their registration timeline. In the past, students registered for the exam sometime in March with the exams administered in May. The new changes include requiring registration in November along with $40 late registration and cancellation fees.
The College Board is, of course, spinning this as for the student's benefit.
In what grade should students take APCS? This question comes up from time to time.
I've heard answers ranging from middle school through never. Infact, years ago, my chairman relayed a conversation he had with Marvin Minsky where he asked Minsky what the high schools should be teaching with respect to CS. The answer was "nothing." This was then amended to "teach them to type." Of course this was a long time ago but I believe the sentiment was that college was the right time and the high schools don't know what they're doing and will just screw up the kids.
While busy finishing off my sides for my talk at CSTA2018 this weekend I noticed a Facebook post about APCS exam grades now or shortly being available.
I'm no longer teaching high school but still fancy myself a teacher first and part of the K12CS community. We're a growing community and we're growing fast.
Usually, at this time of year we see a number of people posting their results.
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.
I got an email from a friend the other day. Among other things, he mentioned that he would be teaching APCS-A for the first time this year. He's a little trepidatious. He knows his stuff but he hasn't really done much using Java.
I was going to respond in an email but thought I might share here instead.
TL;DR - for all you APCS teachers who are new or new to Java - learn your core CS, lean on your resources and support and it's OK to tell your kids "I don't know, I'll get back to you.
Now that I'm back from vacation and summer's winding down I thought I'd start getting back to more classroom related posts. I still have a few summer topics I want to write about – standards and side projects in particular but I'm also looking forward to talking more about the classroom since, after all, at my core, I'm a teacher. When I saw this article in my inbox this morning I thought I'd talk about it.
AP scores just came out. As usual, I see the posts and take part in conversations where teachers talk about their results. Some are happy about their results, some aren't, some don't really care.
I just want to make a plea to all AP teachers out there:
Don't let your value be dictated by the college board or any other exam.
I never really cared much about my students' actual AP scores.