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AP CS Principles Course Moves One Step Closer

This morning the College Board announced that the National Science Foundation has committed $5.2 million in funding to support the continued development of the Advanced Placement Computer Science Principles course with the goal of officially launching the new course in the 2016-2017 school year.

Most CSTA members are aware of the ambitious development project that has been underway to create a new computer science course that is more engaging for all students and rigorous enough to receive AP credit. This work began in 2007 and has been supported by computer science educators from all levels and most recently by the universities and high schools that have been pilot testing the course and assessment approaches.

When development is completed, the course package will include a curriculum framework, a digital portfolio, and a final assessment. The final assessment will not be tied to a particular programming language, enabling teachers to select the language of programming instruction that they believe best meets the learning needs of their students.

This continued commitment of NSF funding is critical because it supports important next steps, especially the provision of professional development for teachers. As the NSF's Jan Cuny has noted since she launched the CS10K project supporting its development, successful implementation of this new course will require a large cadre of well-trained teachers with sufficient computer science expertise to teach the material. Through programs such as the NSF's Broadening Participation in Computing and Computing Education in the 21st Century and Google's CS4HS, universities across the country are now offering an unprecedented number of workshops focusing on K-12 computer science.

Over the last year, CSTA (with help from Google and Oracle) has also been working with its 46 chapters to build local capacity for offering professional development, with the expectation that CSTA chapters will serve as supportive learning communities for teachers adopting and implementing the AP CS P course.

Wide-scale adoption will also requite the development and dissemination of teaching and learning resources. Toward this end, the College Board has committed an additional $1.5 million for the creation of support materials and professional development and an additional $2 million for the development of a platform that will deliver the digital portfolio assessment.

These new funding commitments are a clear indication of both the deep need for the new course and of the tremendous commitment of the computer science community.

Karen Lang
CSTA 9-12 Teacher Representative

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