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Some Very Interesting AP CS Numbers

The number of students taking the Advance Placement Computer Science A exam has been increasing since 2005. In 2008 15,014 students nationally took this exam. One might assume that the increase in students since 2005 is nationwide. But, that is not the case. It is especially striking that Maryland has steadily increased the number of students taking the CS AP A exam since 1998. Texas has been increasing since 2003. Both of these states have very strong teacher certification requirements. Some may argue that strong teaching requirements will reduce the number of students who take the AP CS exam, but the experience with Maryland and Texas would suggest otherwise.

The number of students taking the Advanced Placement Computer Science A exam for each state from 1998 to 2008 is available on the CSTA web site at:

This data was compiled from the summary data for each year on the College Board's web site at: http://www.collegeboard.com/student/testing/ap/exgrd_sum/2008.html.

On reviewing the data from 1998-2008, only ten states had their highest number of students taking the CS AP A exam in 2008.

Table 1 shows those states that reported their highest number of students taking the exam in 2008.

Table 1
State Num in 2008
Arkansas 117
Colorado 250
Georgia 585
Illinois 473
Kentucky 168
Maine 68
Maryland 895
Texas 2951
Washington 296
Washington D.C. 51

What is especially striking is that some of the states that one might expect to be strong in high school computing education have not recovered from the dot-com crash of 2001.

Table 2 shows some of the states that have a large difference between the number of students who took the exam in 2008 and the maximum from 1998 to 2008. As you can see from the table New York and California are still well below their maximums.

Table 2
State 2008 - Max (1998-2008)
New York -627
California -529
New Jersey -216
Pennsylvania -212
Massachusetts -160
Ohio -106

It is disappointing to see that 26 states have never had over 100 students take the CS AP A exam.

Table 3
State 2008 Max (1998-2008)
Montana 6
North Dakota 12
South Dakota 18
Kansas 20
Nebraska 27
Alaska 31
Wyoming 35
Idaho 37
West Virginia 38
Oregon 38
Mississippi 40
Louisiana 43
Vermont 45
Washington D.C. 51
New Mexico 53
New Hampshire 57
Nevada 58
Alabama 58
Rhode Island 60
Iowa 62
Delaware 62
Maine 68
Hawaii 77
Arizona 87

This data clearly shows that access to high quality computing education is very limited in most states. Our hope is that stronger teacher certification will broaden access and interest.

If you would like the complete set of state AP CS data, CSTA has made it available for download from this url:


Barb Ericson
CSTA Director

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