All schools that want to label a course “AP” must get authorization by going through the AP Course Audit. This means submitting two things:
- A subject-specific AP Course Audit Form
- A course syllabus
Teachers have the option to create their own syllabus or adopt one of the sample syllabi provided. A teacher-created syllabus is checked by our reviewers to ensure that the course fulfills the AP Program’s course-specific curricular and resource requirements.
We offer plenty of resources, below, to help teachers understand course requirements and create a syllabus that fulfills these.
Designing Your AP Computer Science Principles Course
The AP Computer Science Principles course should be designed by your school to provide students with a learning experience equivalent to that of a first-semester introductory college computing course. Find out more about the course.
It is recommended that a student in the AP Computer Science Principles course should have successfully completed a first year high school algebra course with a strong foundation on basic linear functions and composition of functions, and problem solving strategies that require multiple approaches and collaborative efforts. In addition, students should be able to use a Cartesian (x, y) coordinate system to represents points in a plane.
Getting to Know the Course and Exam
The key document for each AP course is the course and exam description. Teachers should review it to understand the objectives and expectations of the AP course and exam.
- AP Computer Science Principles Course and Exam Description (.pdf/2.05MB) - Describes in detail the AP Computer Science Principles course and exam. Includes the curriculum framework and a representative sample of exam questions.
Programs offering curriculum and professional development for AP Computer Science Principles may be able to provide additional support to you and your school, including an approved syllabus for your use. If you decide to you use a syllabus by a College Board endorsed provider, contact the provider to get both the syllabus and syllabus ID. Learn more.
Creating the Syllabus
Teachers can use these resources to design their syllabus.
- Syllabus Development Guide: AP Computer Science Principles (.pdf/392KB) - Includes the guidelines reviewers use to evaluate syllabi along with three samples of evidence for each requirement. This guide also specifies the level of detail required in the syllabus to receive course authorization.
These four annotated sample AP Computer Science Principles syllabi show how the curricular requirements can be demonstrated in a syllabus and what level of detail teachers need to include.
The course teachers create must fulfill these requirements, and the syllabus should clearly articulate how the requirements will be addressed.
AP Computer Science Principles curricular requirements:
- Students are provided with opportunities to meet learning objectives connected to the six computational thinking practices as described in the AP Computer Science Principles Course and Exam Description (.pdf/2.1MB).
- Students are provided with opportunities to meet learning objectives within each of the seven big ideas as described in the AP Computer Science Principles Course and Exam Description.
- Students are provided the required amount of class time to complete the AP Through-Course Assessment Explore—Impact of Computing Innovations Performance Task.
- Students are provided the required amount of class time to complete the AP Through-Course Assessment Create—Applications from Ideas Performance Task.
AP Computer Science Principles resource requirements:
- The school ensures that each student has access to a computer with internet access to prepare for and to complete the AP Computer Science Principles performance tasks in class.
- The computer must be able to access the internet sites necessary for students to be successful in the course and assessment.
- The school ensures that the computer system(s) available for students contains appropriate software to create and edit programs and other computational artifacts, and to allow students to practice for and to complete the AP Computer Science Principles performance tasks.
- The school ensures that each student has access to the AP Computer Science Principles Exam Reference Sheet, performance tasks, and performance task rubrics.
- The school ensures that each student has a college-level text or curricular resources for individual use inside and outside of the classroom.
The list below represents examples of textbooks that meet the resource requirements of AP Computer Science Principles and have met or exceed the required alignment to the learning objectives and skills in the course curriculum framework.
- Parsons, June. New Perspectives on Computer Science 2018: Comprehensive. 20th edition. National Geographic/Cengage Learning.
- Schneider, Michael G., and Judith Gersting. Invitation to Computer Science. 8th edition. National Geographic/Cengage Learning.
This list is not exhaustive and the texts listed should not be regarded as endorsed, authorized, recommended, or approved by the College Board. Not using a book from this list does not mean that a course will not receive authorization. Syllabi submitted as part of the AP Course Audit process will be evaluated holistically, with textbooks considered along with supplementary, supporting resources to confirm that the course as a whole provides students with the content delineated in the curricular requirements of the AP Course Audit.
Teachers should review this checklist to ensure that their syllabus has all the elements required.
- Syllabus Self-Evaluation Checklist (.pdf/114KB) - Includes a list of items that teachers should verify prior to submitting the syllabus for review.
To ensure all AP Computer Science Principles teachers have access to the AP Digital Portfolio, we strongly encourage submission of course audit materials (course audit form and syllabus) before October 1. The final deadline to complete the AP Course Audit process, however, is January 31. Once they submit course materials, teachers will gain access to the AP Digital Portfolio – a web-based application where you can create CSP classes, enroll students and confirm submission of performance tasks. Find out more about the AP Digital Portfolio.