February 28, 2022
Research Shows AP Computer Science Principles Is Helping to Expand and Diversify the Computer Science Pipeline; $2.75M Gift Will Bring the Foundational Course to More Schools to Increase Diverse Participation in the Field
New York — College Board today announced new funding from Ken Griffin, Citadel, and Citadel Securities to increase participation in AP Computer Science Principles (AP CSP) at 500 schools with significant Black student populations across the U.S. The $2.75 million gift will provide schools with funding for professional development, mentorship opportunities, technology, and other costs associated with offering the course.
AP CSP is a foundational computer science course that College Board introduced in 2016, with significant support from the National Science Foundation. It was designed to broaden the invitation to computer science education and engage students traditionally underrepresented in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). AP CSP introduces students to the foundational concepts of the field and challenges them to explore how computing and technology can impact the world.
“Every student in our country should have access to a world class computer science education,” said Ken Griffin, Citadel founder and CEO. “Through my own experience and that of so many of my colleagues, I know firsthand that early exposure to coding can inspire a life-long passion for problem solving and engineering. I look forward to seeing the incredible impact that will come from more students having the opportunity to learn about software engineering.”
“Investments like these accelerate access and opportunity,” said Stefanie Sanford, College Board chief of global policy and external relations. “These resources will help measurably expand and diversify participation in computer science education and prepare students from all backgrounds to fully take part in an increasingly tech-focused world.”
There is a well-documented shortage of women and students of color studying STEM in high school and ultimately pursuing STEM careers. In the field of computer science, Black professionals, in particular, are significantly underrepresented. AP CSP opens a pathway for all students and positions them for success in college and a wide variety of disciplines and industries.
The introduction of AP CSP in 2016 was the largest course launch in AP Program history, and it has led to a significant increase in female, Black, and Hispanic students taking AP computer science coursework and exams. College Board research has found that students who take AP CSP in high school are more than 3 times as likely to major in computer science in college, compared to similar students who don’t take AP CSP. Differences were similarly large for Black students. AP CSP students are also nearly twice as likely to enroll in AP Computer Science A (AP CSA)—a course more focused on computer programming—compared to similar students who did not take AP CSP. Black students who take AP CSP are 3 times more likely to take AP CSA. A third finding suggested that AP CSP serves as a stepping-stone to other advanced AP STEM coursework for most AP CSP students. For the class of 2019, AP CSP was the first AP STEM course for more than half of CSP students, and even more so for Black students (68%).
“There is compelling evidence that AP CSP is doing exactly what we set out to do when we launched the course—change the invitation to computer science education,” said Steve Bumbaugh, senior vice president of college and career access for College Board. “With support like this, AP CSP can play a greater role in shaping the high school and college careers of an even more diverse set of students over the coming years.”
“As an AP CSP teacher, I have been blown away by seeing students who never saw a place for themselves in computer science thriving in my classroom,” said Dr. Marilyn Fitzpatrick, AP CSP teacher at Charles Herbert Flowers High School in Prince George’s County, Md. “A former student of mine who’s majoring in computer science and interned at Amazon recently told me she wouldn’t have even gone to college had she not taken my AP CSP course in high school. I’m excited to learn that with this grant, more students’ lives will be changed.”
“I’ve seen firsthand the positive change that a foundational AP course like AP CSP can bring to a school community,” said Greg Walker, College Board senior vice president of state and district partnerships. “This is welcome news, which builds on collaborative efforts across the country to introduce more students from all backgrounds to computer science education.”
“Expanding access to computer science education for underrepresented groups is at the heart of our mission,” said Jackie Smalls, chief program officer for Code.org (a provider of AP CSP curriculum). “Code.org aims to remind students, teachers, and all of society that success in computer science shouldn’t be about race, ethnicity, or gender. We are excited Citadel is joining this movement and making an investment in students, teachers, and schools.”
“This initiative has the potential for long-term impacts by fostering the next generation of tech leaders,” said Pauline Lake, curriculum and professional development coordinator at the National Center for Computer Science Education. “Mobile CSP [a provider of AP CSP curriculum] features African American leaders in several apps and we look forward to featuring even more who have been inspired by taking the CS Principles course.”
Visit the College Board’s AP Central website for a complete list of endorsed AP CSP providers that help schools launch AP CSP with professional development, curriculum, and other instructional supports.
About AP Computer Science Principles
AP Computer Science Principles is an introductory college-level computing course that welcomes students into the field of computer science through hands-on, project based, collaborative learning. Students explore the big ideas of computer science and internet concepts that power the world around them. AP CSP educators have the flexibility to choose the programming language for their course, unlike Computer Science A, where students focus on problem solving and computing skills related to programming in Java.