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Audits of AP CS Courses

At a recent meeting of teachers and administrators from the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), I happened to overhear expressions of concern about the College Board's plans to conduct audits of AP Computer Science courses and the teachers who teach them. Basically the teachers were concerned that audits of teacher credentials would seriously diminish the district's ability to find enough teachers for courses that are already challenging to staff.

Following up on this line of questioning, I contacted Gail Chapman, who is the Director for K-12 Consultant Training and Support at the College Board and my best professional source on all things AP Computer Science. Gail confirmed that while the exact details are still under discussion at the College Board, it is their intention to conduct course audits.

As noted on the AP Central website, the College Board sees the audit process as a central strategy for maintaining course quality and integrity:

"The goal of the AP Course Audit is to ensure that the newest generations of AP students are assured of the same level of consistent quality in their AP courses that continues to be manifest in the development and scoring of the AP Exams."

It is important, Gail says, to understand that this issue is not just a computer science issue. Rather, the Universities have raised on-going concerns with the entire spectrum of AP courses because they feel that schools often provide AP credit for courses that are not AP in content. As a result, students are simply not sufficiently prepared for the rigor of a university-level course. If the College Board is to maintain its credibility with the post-secondary institutions, it must ensure that courses labeled AP provide instruction and content that reflects the AP Course Descriptions.

Gail also believes that ensuring that AP courses contain AP content and are taught by teachers who are adequately prepared to teach this content protects teachers as well. Too often, she notes, teachers are required to teach courses that are not within their discipline and this puts an incredible strain on them.

This does not mean, however, that the LAUSD folks do not have some grounds to worry. As we have seen with the requirements for "highly qualified" teachers under the NCLB legislation, sometimes the additional qualifications bureaucracy really does disenfranchise people who have the knowledge credentials but not necessarily the paper credentials. Appropriate wording to the course audit documents that will allow for the latter, but encourage the former is one of the things still in discussion.

Gail encourages teachers to provide feedback regarding the course audit that can assist in further defining the audit details.

For more information about the AP course audits, visit

http://apcentral.collegeboard.com/article/0,3045,151-165-0-46361,00.html

And as always, let us know what you think!

Chris

Comments

My big concern with a lot of things having to do with defining a qualified teacher is confusion between certified and qualified. I know some very qualified teachers who came from industry with tremendous knowledge of the material who have developed into wonderful teachers. But because of the hoops required by the education establishment have had troubles getting certified.
I regularly run into computer professionals who are thinking about becoming teachers in the latter part of their careers. They have amazing knowledge and skills. Many of them have been mentoring and training professionals for years. They’d make great teachers but there are seldom reasonable ways to get them the training and certification they need to get into the classroom. Requiring a year or two of course work and/or a new Masters degree is not a reasonable requirement for these people. Most of them could learn on the job.

Computer learning is a on job skill to be integrated to subsequent or present career. In the light of this substance and facts, individual students must tought computer applications relevant to the hard facts of industry management with limitless operation. Unless a teacher is a professional with industrial background, I think it will be suitable only for beginers not in jobs. All focus should be to enlighten and focus to individual career.

Professionals from industry who are well qualified should be given more weitage. The very idea of computer training skill is to provide for entry in industry at the acceptabe standards at all levels. Certified professional are good only for furthering computer education in computer career like software and hardware. For providing skilled workforce pool to industry, only industrial professional will be more fruitful.

As I read Gail's response, I applaud the College Board's proactive stance to a growing problem in all subject areas. Many AP courses are not teaching recommended topics or on the required level. This is the natural outcome when school districts can (and do) reward enrollment in AP courses with academic and financial incentives without requiring a minimal level of performance on the AP examinations. Students should not be penalized while school boards, who are supposed to be serving the public good, attempt to find shortcuts to systemic problems. Any attempt to hold our educational systems accountable is to be commended.

pls ur site is good but i need every bit of information about computer science education and all the necessary softwares.

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