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Education Stats

AP Computer Science Test Takers Up 8,000; Pass Rate Down 6.8% 119

theodp (442580) writes " reports that preliminary data on students who took the Advanced Placement (AP) Computer Science Exam in 2014 show an increase of 8,276 students over 2013 and represent what the College Board called "the first real indication of progress in AP CS enrollment for women and underserved minorities in years." Girls made up 20% of the 39,393 total test takers, compared to 18.7% of the 31,117 test takers in 2013. Black or African American students saw their share increase by 0.19%, from 3.56% to 3.75% (low, but good enough to crush Twitter). credits the increased enrollment to its celebrity-studded CS promo film starring Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg ("I even made a personal bet (reflected in my contractual commitment to donors) that our video could help improve the seemingly immovable diversity numbers in computer science," founder Hadi Partovi notes). However, some of the increase is likely attributable to the other efforts of's donors. Microsoft ramped up its TEALS AP CS program in 2013-2014, and — more significantly — Google helped boost AP CS study not only through its CS4HS program, but also by funding the College Board's AP STEM Access program, which offered $5 million to schools and teachers to encourage minority and female students to enroll in AP STEM courses. This summer, explains the College Board, "All AP STEM teachers in the participating schools (not just the new AP STEM teachers), who increase diversity in their class, receive a [$100] gift card for each student in the course who receives a 3, 4, or 5 on the AP Exam." The bad news for AP CS teachers anticipating Google "Excellence Funding" bounties (for increasing course enrollment and completion "by at least five underrepresented students") is that AP CS pass rates decreased to 60.8% in 2014 (from 67.6% in 2013), according to Total Registration. Using these figures and a back-of-the-envelope calculation, while enrollment saw a 26.6% increase over last year, the total number of students passing increased by 13.9%."
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AP Computer Science Test Takers Up 8,000; Pass Rate Down 6.8%

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  • Inconceivable! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by aardvarkjoe ( 156801 ) on Saturday July 26, 2014 @02:27PM (#47539353)

    So they've found that encouraging students to take CS courses based on their skin color or genitals is less effective than encouraging students who have an interest or aptitude for the subject? Gee, I never would have guessed that result.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      They are talking about placement exams - that's all.

      And why not encourage some poor black kid to go into CS instead of the NBA or HipHop lottery? I've worked with those kids and pretty much all of them think basketball or music is their way out. What a fucking society we have! You know, human capital is just that, capital. throwing away some bright kid or not encouraging someone with brains is just lunacy.

      My wife loved theater. She really wanted to be an actress.

      She went into medical because she realized sh

      • Sorry, I respect your opinion, but I wholeheartedly disagree.

        I've always had a passion programming and for video games. All my life people have been telling me to just get a normal job and not waste time on games, that it's childish and foolish, and that I should get real and go work for a bank or something like everyone else. Well, I had to pass up on a lot of opportunities along the way, but today I'm a professional games developer working for a successful games company, and loving every minute of it.
      • by gweihir ( 88907 )

        As somebody with quite a bit of experience teaching CS, I call that bullshit. Maybe becoming an MD has gotten so easy you can do it with aptitude and dedication only, but being any good in the CS fields requires passion in addition. Those that do not have that passion will become the "engineers" that create messes so expensive to clean up, their overall productivity is hugely negative and not employing them safes you a lot of money. Of course there are a lot of those cretins in the industry, but one reason

    • Not only does the data not support your conclusions, it does not even support your premise.

    • You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

    • by gweihir ( 88907 )

      Well, next step is obviously to remove any aptitude and performance requirements at all and give everybody a degree. No more CS grads shortage. Of course, any Indian IIT CS bachelor will wipe the floor with those "graduates" as IIT has a really, really hard selection process.

    • by drolli ( 522659 )

      that's too simple. what they found out is that in the moment when the students enroll things are already settled. Tell your 7 year old daughter that she sucks at math but that it's not bad because she is a girl and dont give her technical toys and she will make decisions in choosing hobbies and interests in school based on that. i have seen many attempts at fixing gender imbalance and these programs usually take a half hearted approach at fixing some symptoms of the problem that we as a society still have

    • >So they've found that encouraging students to take CS courses based on their skin color or genitals is less effective than encouraging students who have an interest or aptitude for the subject? Gee, I never would have guessed that result.

      Yes, this is well known.

      What traditionally happens is that teachers are very concerned with their pass rate, so they filter kids out of their class that they think won't pass the AP test.

      I worked for a College Board program for four years designed to address this proble

  • /sarcasm "People graduate from college. News at 11."

    • (First of all, to reply to the parent article, the test isn't for people graduating from college, it's for people in high school who will get to use the results to place out of courses in college. In my case that meant I could start more advanced calculus classes a year early, which was really useful, and got some extra credits for biology that didn't affect anything but probably looked good, and if I'd been at a college where tuition prices were by the course instead of the semester, it would have probabl

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Is it just me or does it seem like Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates (for whatever reason) is trying to create a new class of minimum wage programmers?

    So much focus on getting more and more people into the field, especially if they're a woman or brown.

    • by plover ( 150551 )

      It seems to me they're trying to offer a career path to a group of people who could use additional options.

      If we assume that attributes that make for good programmers (design skills, intelligence, etc) are equally distributed, there are a lot of really smart people (that could become programmers) out there that have something blocking their opportunities.

      Things like bias, culture, and upbringing play a huge role. Earlier this year my step-niece (age 21, working on her bachelor's degree) was told "you're f

    • "especially if they're a woman or brown" because they are very afraid of being sued for not hiring every one of those that walks through the door because so few are walking through the door. you know, you are discriminating because only 25% of your workforce is x when in society the ratio is 50%. Never mind that they aren't hiring from the general population, they are hiring from those that apply. The problem is that lawyers are stupid and expensive.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    What is the pass rate for women and blacks ? Or doesn't those numbers fit into your political correct world view ?

    • by poity ( 465672 )

      You can already see some politically incorrect numbers.

      AP CS student demographics from the first link in the summary.

      - 31.4% Asian
      - 3.8% Black
      - 8.4% Hispanic
      - 0.3% Native American
      - 50.5% non-Hispanic White

      Compare to current US demographics from the Census Bureau []

      - 5.3% Asian
      - 13.2% Black
      - 17.1% Hispanic
      - 1.2% Native American
      - 62.6% non-Hispanic White

      It looks like every race except Asian is under-represented.
      Is this evidence of systemic oppression by USA's Asian-American overlords?
      Are White people so hateful they'd rather cut themselves to spite the Black and Brown people?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I love this bigotry and racism exposed by some of these diversity causes. Why the fuck are Asians excluded from underserved minority group? Because we actually worked harder and longer to be considered overserved according to these nitwits? We certainly were not privileged, but we did something about it . Now we are being punished for our success because somehow it upset some magical racial balance formula.

    This is racism and it must be stopped now. There should be equality for all, it is as simple as tha

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I googled for "ap computer science" and this came up

    No Girls, Blacks, or Hispanics Take AP Computer Science Exam in Some States []

    • Yeah, but how many male kindergarten teachers are in those districts, and how many boys in home ec?

      Now excuse me, I'm a busy man. I'm off on a photo-shoot as the top payed model in the world.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Women are predominantly teachers, especially of kindergarten classes.

        According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' 2011 Current Population Survey, men teachers make up only 18.3 percent of elementary and middle school teachers and 2.3 percent of preschool and kindergarten instructors—a dip from the 2007 prerecession proportions of 19.1 percent in grades 1 to 8 and 2.7 percent in preschool and kindergarten.

        Apparently, this is okay, because more women means more equal according to feminism.

        • I was kind of assuming that people knew all the cited examples were skewed in favor of women. I specifically put in models as an example to counter the argument that these are not highly paid positions. So since we're ruining the humor by explaining this, we might as well go all the way and cite Forbes [] for some model examples.

      • Where I went to school every student takes Home Ec.

  • by AuMatar ( 183847 ) on Saturday July 26, 2014 @04:02PM (#47539747)

    You tell teachers they'll be paid if more people pass a test. So they encourage more of their students to take it. Many of those aren't ready, they're just hoping they'll pass for a payout. So the pass rate goes down, as the majority of additional takers weren't capable. Yup, statistics work.

    • You failed... 40,000 test takers. 8,000 of them were new. extra 7% fail rate. Ahem. More people passed than before. The new students more than make up for the increased fail rate.

      But you didn't even look did you? You had your conclusion all ready to go, why bother looking to see if it was correct?

      • by wmansir ( 566746 )

        Really all 40k of them are "new students". This is a different group of kids, presumably taking a different test, perhaps with different prep methods, so it's not so easy to isolate the effects of the extra 8K students. If we were able to isolate the "new students" from the core 32K that would have taken the test anyway, and assume the core group would have gotten the same 68% pass rate we could estimate that the new group had around a 33% pass rate.

        33% is a pretty poor pass rate, but on the other hand that

    • by fermion ( 181285 )
      The college board is desperate for relevancy. Since 1994 the SAT has changed several times after 50 years of stability to make it more attractive to increasingly critical urban population and schools. It was no longer good enough to see which students matched the standards of east coast prep schools, students had to be characterized based on a more diverse standard. It may have been wrong, but there was simply not enough money to be made catering to the east coast universities looking to rank the east co
      • by Anonymous Coward

        My high school didn't have AP biology, but one student took the test anyways. That's when the honors biology teacher found out that there was a state law that paid a bonus to teachers for each student of theirs that got a 4 or 5 on an AP exam and she was offended. Saying that it was already a privileged to be teaching the honors students in the first place, she started a mini campaign to get teachers to give the bonus to the school.

  • About this field... I thought that my affinity and ability for computers and programming at a young age was a gift and that I was special for it. I thought that since I understood something and was fascinated by it, that I would be highly sought after, well paid and appreciated. It's so disappointing to see how we've turned this whole thing into something that anyone can do. We've done so by bringing the quality down to the level that it can be achieved by anyone. The tools, methods and process that ha
    • I disagree with lots and lots of what you said, but rather than arguing I'd prefer to just offer some advice.

      If CS / IT / software-development isn't working out the way you hoped, is it perhaps time to switch fields? There are so many livings most persons can make: law, medicine (especially nursing which doesn't require 12 years of preparation), business administration, sales, marketing, etc.

      Or if you'd rather work with your hands, you can maybe do technical college at night to prepare for a trade (electri

      • by Pro923 ( 1447307 )
        well there's some truth to what you say - I've realized that as well. it's quite clairvoyant of you to figure that from the small post. I think most of it stems from the disappointment in my career though. I've had to grow and watch some of my friends become quite successful (in other fields), despite not really having done anything spectacularly clever, or having had the type of 'gift' that I had - being able to understand and work with such complexity (as I suspect most of the people here do - I'm not
        • Until then, I don't see any other way to do right by my kids except to stay the path, keep wasting my time and basically forfeit my happiness.

          Sorry things seem to hopeless. That was actually my point about looking into Christianity though. If you do, and if you decide it's likely-enough true that you're willing to become a Christian, you might find yourself happy regardless of what job you have.

    • by gweihir ( 88907 )

      It is not something everyone can do. Some companies wise up and the usual underperformers do not have any reasonable job-perspective except becoming managers. Most will not manage that either. What you need to find is an employer that understands CS worker productivity.

  • 1) The stats are only considering the number of subpop test takers out of all test takers. It does not say anything about those taking the course itself, as the test is often optional, and it certainly says nothing about the relative popularity of CS with the subpop.
    2) Smaller schools will never offer AP CS courses. Never. The data is incredibly noisy as a result, and entire states might have zero participation from a given subpop mostly as a result of limited availability.

    For example, I could get the incre

  • by Anonymous Coward

    ... is figuring out how many students failed :D

    39,393 tests total with 39.2% failure yields 15,442.056 people who didn't pass. The >.1 person there obviously represents a semi-sentient walkman.

  • Part of this issue is because the teachers are under qualified for teaching AP comp sci courses. I took AP comp sci in high school back in 2006 and failed it with flying colors (as did every single person in the course), but that's because they made us take the A and B exams but only prepared us for the A exam. Looking back on it, we should have been better prepared, but the teacher was learning the material as we went along, and he simply didn't hit data structures like trees (huge on the exam) or really m
  • Ap cs is a joke. It's a programming test you hand write. If the person misreads your handwriting or is just wrong about their understanding of the language you get it wrong. And nobody is there to prove otherwise. Oh yeah, the test is 120 bucks to have what is clearly a non professional grade it. How do I know this? Because I knew every answer on the test, finished early, then got a 3. I had to argue for credit the intro to cs course I'm college, then complained that the data structures class was too easy a

    • I've taken tests before and "known" every answer. The score didn't always turn out as I expected because I made silly mistakes by rushing. I'll bet the graders (there are generally 2 for every free response question though there can be 3 if there is argument as to the merit of a score, and it is scored in a blind fashion to what other graders see) knew the material better than you, and frankly you got the answers not right enough.

      that you screwed up that day doesn't make the test invalid. It really jus

  • Isn't 67.6% to 60.8% a decrease of 10% (6.8 percentage points)?
  • AP scores fluctuate a lot from year to year as they change the test. 6.8% isn't all too big of a change, and that is too be expected when you add more people that may not be the cream of the crop. On another point, my high school doesn't offer AP Computer Science yet, mainly because there isn't a very big demand for it. I don't really understand why people are angry that women aren't taking the test as much. If I was to ask the girls in my school if they were to take it, a very large portion, much larger t
  • Write a full RTOS in C with support for logging and debugging in the course of 4 months. If you can do that you pass, other wise you fail and you aren't a programmer, you're a code hacker.
  • these classes are not equivalent to a college class and have been debunked often. You want to show you know how to program on your college application? LIst the apps you have created for Android/iOS. List your involvement in open source projects.

    Any student considering AP (anything) would do better to take a summer class at the local community (or better) college. Calc, physics, etc... Get an A and you can probably a) transfer the credit and b) do better in the next class

  • I read that as: credits the increased enrollment to its celebrity-studded CS porno film starring Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg.

    Eeesh. NSFL.

The human mind ordinarily operates at only ten percent of its capacity -- the rest is overhead for the operating system.