CARSON CITY – New data shows that Nevada participation in the AP Computer Science Principles (CSP) course grew by 127 percent from 2017 to 2018, more than doubling the national expansion rate of 50 percent. During this same time period, female participation in the state grew by 175 percent and Hispanic/Latino participation grew by 179 percent.
The dramatic increase comes just as the Nevada Department of Education (NDE) has committed to engaging more students from diverse backgrounds in advanced computer science. NDE announced it will work with school districts to increase the enrollment of female, black, Hispanic, and students with disabilities in computer science courses by 10 percent during the 2018-19 academic year. NDE made the announcement last week at the 2018 CSforALL Summit in Detroit.
“These are exciting times for computer science education in Nevada,’ said Cindi Chang, NDE programs professional for computer science. “We celebrate the great strides we have made in growing our inclusion for computer science participation with our traditionally underrepresented students and the high pass rates achieved in AP CSP, but we also recognize the continued efforts needed to bring computer science education to all students statewide. We are dedicated to working with all stakeholders to make this vision a reality.”
Chang also emphasized that Nevada is committed to expanding access of underrepresented youth in computer science to ensure all students have this opportunity.
Additionally, 59 percent of AP CSP examinees in Nevada earned a 3, 4, or 5 on the exam in 2018. A 3 or higher on an AP Exam has multiple benefits for students, including the ability to earn college credit, advanced placement, or both for successful performance on AP Exams, saving them time and money. Research shows AP students are better prepared for and more likely to enroll and remain in college, do well in classes, and earn their degrees on time.
AP CSP, the College Board’s newest AP course, introduces students to the foundational concepts of computer science and challenges them to explore how computing and technology impact the world. It was designed to attract and engage a wide variety of students—including those traditionally underrepresented in the STEM fields—through creative problem solving and real-world application building. The launch of AP CSP in the 2016-17 school year was the largest in the program’s history and has dramatically expanded access to computer science education. Nationally, the number of female students who took an AP computer science course more than doubled, as did the number of Hispanic/Latino, Black/African American, and rural students.
“We salute Nevada’s leaders for their commitment to ensuring that students who never before saw a place for themselves in an advanced computer science course are now thriving in one”, said Trevor Packer, College Board Senior Vice President of AP & Instruction. “Expanding computer science education will help Nevada meet current and future workforce demands for workers skilled to take on the technology and innovation jobs of the 21st century.”
Since 2016, Nevada has partnered with the College Board, Code.org, and the Southern Nevada Regional Professional Development Program on a two-year pilot initiative to expand access to AP CSP across the state. The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI) is partially funding the expansion through a grant to help bring AP CSP to every school district in Nevada, with a special focus on rural communities. Additional funding for teacher training came from a grant provided by Senate Bill 200 in the 2017 Legislature that authorized the creation of the academic content standards for computer science and other computer science education initiatives in Nevada.
“We are proud to support Nevada’s efforts to expand computer science education to reach traditionally underrepresented students in advanced computer science courses. Our communities and workplaces improve when everybody has a seat at the table, and the classroom is no different,” said Jon Deane, Director of Education, Chan Zuckerberg Initiative. “Students of today will build the information architecture of the future, and we need a more inclusive student body and future workforce to make this vision more equitable and successful.”
Seventy teachers in Nevada have received professional development training through summer 2018, and about 38 new schools have added AP CSP since the beginning of the pilot. The schools represent all areas of the state: urban, suburban, town, and rural. As recently highlighted in the 2018 State of Computer Science Education report issued by the Code.org Advocacy Coalition, Nevada is a leader in establishing and implementing computer science policies that address both foundational education and workforce development needs. Some of these policies include adopting statewide K-12 Nevada Academic Content Standards for Computer Science, requiring a computer science course to be made available in all high schools, and providing funding for professional development so that teachers can easily and effectively attain computer science credentials.
“Nevada has been a lighthouse state for the nation in expanding access to K-12 computer science; we are thrilled to see such positive results from the partnership we’ve had with the state,” said Cameron Wilson, Chief Operating Officer of Code.org. “The results show that when states focus on pro-computer science policies coupled with preparing teachers, it can make a meaningful difference for equity of access to K-12 CS.”