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Qualifications for Teaching AP CS

I got a panicked e-mail from a local school in August that they didn't have an Advanced Placement Computer Science A teacher for fall. They were planning to use the retired teacher who had taught it the year before, but he had an injury right before school and so wouldn't be able to teach it. They had a teacher who has taught Beginning Programming in Java, and he had signed up for College Board AP Summer Institute in Texas, but that was cancelled. They had the common misconception that a College Board Summer Institute somehow certifies a teacher to teach AP CS, so they were worried that they wouldn't be able to offer the course at all.

All you must do in order to teach an AP CS A course is pass the audit. Of course, to effectively teach an AP course you should have a good understanding of the material and the topics to be covered. A College Board AP Summer Institute is one way that you can learn the material, but you can also take classes at local institutions, or learn from on-line resources.

I am helping the person who has taught only Beginning Programming in Java teach the course. It meets Monday – Friday for 50 minutes each day, but I am only coming Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. On Tuesday and Thursday the students work on the computer to complete assignments. I am posting my materials at:

http://coweb.cc.gatech.edu/ice-gt/1043.

Georgia Tech just received a NSF grant to retrain unemployed IT workers to be high school computing teachers and pair them up with existing computing teachers during the first year of teaching. So, my co-teaching this course helps me see how this will work.

There are 28 students in the class. As we often see in an AP CS A course the majority are white and male. There are nine females and three African Americans in the course. This course is in marked contrast to the Business Essentials course just before it that is 75% African American. The school is actually very diverse with 41.2% White, 35.3% Black, 12.3% Hispanic, 8.2% Asian and 3.3% other racial groups.

One of the things I would like to do this year is recruit a more diverse class for next year. I also would like the school to offer at least two sections for AP CS A next year. I expect demand for AP CS A to increase greatly in Georgia in the next few years since it counts as one of the four years of science starting with students who were freshman in 2008-2009.

Barb Ericson
CSTA Director

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