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AP CSP is for All Students
Students may think that they need special skills or equipment to study computer science. This isn’t the case for AP CSP: Students don’t need any computer science experience to take this course.
Students from groups traditionally underrepresented in computer science may be hesitant to enroll in AP CSP for various reasons. One of our goals in designing this course was to attract these students to the field.
To create a diverse AP CSP class, make an extra effort to recruit girls and underrepresented minorities. Your encouragement will spark new pathways for these students.
The evidence-based strategies below will help you recruit all students.
Recruit students from groups that represent your target demographic populations. Look to sports groups, clubs, or other courses to find students who will enroll and provide social support to one another in the classroom. For example, the girls’ basketball team, the Spanish club, the Black Student Union, or the AVID program.
Invite Students Personally
AP CSP teachers can visit algebra classes to invite all students to enroll in their class the following year—once students complete an algebra course, they’ve met the recommended prerequisites for AP CSP.
In your school’s presentation and handouts:
- Describe the course’s key topics and computational practices, including creativity, programming, and the internet.
- Show how students in the class collaborate and build creative artifacts such as apps, digital music files, and animation.
- Explain how learning computer science can lead to many majors and career fields—for example, graphic design, medicine, political science, and engineering.
- When possible, let prospective students observe your classroom so they can learn more about the course and see their peers working on computing assignments.
Ask Current or Former AP CSP Students to Share Their Experience
Current students can be great peer advocates for AP CSP. For example, during Computer Science Education Week (which usually takes place in early December) and spring enrollment weeks, you can arrange for students to showcase their computing projects and talk about their experience in the course. It’s a good idea to take videos of students’ projects for future recruitment.
You can also schedule a middle school demonstration and have current or former high school students present their work and talk about the course.
Our AP CSP student site hosts a number of videos in which real AP CSP students talk about their experience in the course. Share these testimonials with your students.
Reach Out to Parents
During family-oriented school events and in letters home, provide a single-page course information sheet that features:
- Key questions and topics that drive the course
- Potential community applications of the course
- Information about higher education computing majors and pathways
- Information about jobs in the industry, including salaries
Letters and course information sheets should be available in multiple languages.
Reach Out to Counselors
Make sure counselors understand the course’s focus on creativity, communication, and collaboration. Use the suggestions below to help counselors think about which students would benefit most from taking AP CSP.
- Explain that students do not need previous computer science experience to take this course and that Algebra 1 is the only recommended prerequisite.
- Explain that AP CSP was designed by the National Science Foundation and the College Board to engage a diverse group of students—like those at your school—in computer science.
- Include information about interdisciplinary computing majors.
- Provide information about jobs in the industry, including salaries.
- If your school offers AP CSP and AP Computer Science A, help your counselor understand the difference between these two courses and how to guide students into both.
Create Enrollment Policies for Equity and Diversity
All students should have equitable access to the course, and your AP CSP classroom should be demographically representative of the school’s population. We encourage you to create policies that promote diversity in the course and that do not create barriers that discourage underrepresented groups from participating.
The research-based strategies outlined here were compiled by Joanna Goode, of the University of Oregon, coauthor of Stuck in the Shallow End.
- Aschbacher, P. R., Li, E., & Roth, E. J. (2010). Is science me? High school students’ identities, participation and aspirations in science, engineering, and medicine. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 47(5), 564–582.
- Google (2014). Women who choose computer science—What really matters. Retrieved from https://static.googleusercontent.com/media/edu.google.com/en/pdfs/women-who-choose-what-really.pdf (.pdf/216KB).
- Goode, J. (2008). Increasing diversity in K–12 computer science education: Lessons from the field. Proceedings of the 38th SIGCSE Technical Symposium on Computer Science Education, 40(1), 362–371.
- Goode, J. (2007). If you build teachers, will students come? The role of teachers in broadening computer science learning for urban youth. Journal of Educational Computing Research, 36(1), 65–88.
- Goode, J., Estrella, R., & Margolis, J. (2006). Lost in translation: Gender and high school computer science. In W. Aspray & J. M. Cohoon (Eds.), Women and Information Technology: Research on Underrepresentation (pp. 89–113). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
- Margolis, J., Estrella, R., Goode, J., Holme, J. J., & Nao, K. (2008). Stuck in the shallow end: Education, race, and computing. MIT Press: Cambridge, MA.