Sometimes you miss something by reading a blog post too early. Such is the case with a recent post by Mark Guzdial - Python is the most popular intro language: But what about CS Principles? There have been some 37 comments worth of interesting discussion since I read the initial post. I wouldn’t have known about it if not for a post by Laura Blankenship. The comments discuss the future of the new CS Principles course as an AP course. A lot of the discussion is about why students take AP exams. There are two main reasons:
- To get college/university credit
- To improve their chances of getting into the college/university of their choice
A lot of the discussion on Mark’s blog post focuses on the possibilities for students getting credit at the university level. Most of the people commenting are in fact teaching at the university level and there is some skepticism as about the number of universities that will teach an equivalent course and give credit or placement for the AP CS Principles exam. If students can’t get credit will they take the course?
Some point to the perceived value of AP courses on high school transcripts towards college admissions. With additional weighting at many school and with admissions officers looking at AP courses as evidence of students being able to handle post secondary workloads this is a big incentive for many students to take these courses.
Are these what we really want in a high school course though? Should it be all about university credit or acceptance or something else? Do we worry too much about the post secondary aspect/goals and not enough about both shorter and longer term benefits?
I think we are looking at AP courses, at least in CS, as the only way or perhaps the best (for some definition of best) way to get CS into the curriculum. It may be true but it is also sad.