College Board eliminates AP computer science AB test

April 4th, 2008

See update below.

The College Board has decided to eliminate their Advanced Placement test in computer science. It’s well known that the number of university students choosing computer science as a major has been declined significantly in the past six years. Many organizations, including the the Computing Research Association, have developed strategies to address this by enlarging the pipeline. A part of this is working to increase interest in the field in high schools and middle school. Eliminating the computer science AP test will discourage high schools from offering computer science courses and their students from taking them. Here’s a story from the Washington Post.

AP Language, Computer Courses Cut

The College Board told U.S. teachers in an e-mail yesterday that four underenrolled Advanced Placement courses will be eliminated after the 2008-09 academic year in the first significant retrenchment of the college preparatory program in its 53-year history.

The courses being cut — Italian, Latin literature, French literature and computer science AB — are among the least popular in the AP portfolio. … The eliminated classes are “all less commonly taught disciplines in high schools,” said Trevor Packer, vice president of the College Board for AP. “And they’re under fire sometimes,” he said, in school systems more focused on core subjects.

Trustees of the New York-based College Board decided to eliminate the courses March 27 at a meeting in Reston, Packer said. The decision was communicated at 5 p.m. yesterday via e-mail to 2,519 teachers of the affected subjects and to AP program coordinators.

Given a general agreement that information technology continues to be extremely important for our nation’s future and also a good career choice, I think this is a short-sighted decision.

update: Ok. It’s not as bad as it sounds. A post this afternoon on the ACM blog, AP Computer Science is NOT Going Away clarifies things.

“Today’s Washington Post has an article stating that the College Board, (the body that administers Advanced Placement courses) is doing away with several AP courses – including one computer science course. Reading the article, you’d likely reach the conclusion, as attested by e-mails I’ve seen this morning, that all AP computer science courses are being eliminated. This is not the case. There are two AP computer science courses – AP Computer Science A, and AP Computer Science AB. The college board is eliminating the less popular AB course, not the A course. … “