Enrollment in AP Computer Science classes continues to rise for the fifth year in a row. And, according to the College Board, it’s the fastest-growing AP class in the country.
Only 5% of United States schools offer AP Computer Science. The College Board is hoping to change this, through partnerships with Code.org and the National Science Foundation. A new AP course, called Computer Science Principles, will debut in fall of 2016.
This effort is an attempt to help students keep up with the current demands of the job market. According to the College Board, 2.4% of college students go on to get computer science degrees. In the meantime, computer science jobs are growing every year—and they pay more than the national median wage by a whopping 85%.
College Board is especially concerned with enrollment of minorities in Computer Science courses. Senior Vice President of the College Board AP Program Trevor Packer said that the 2014 numbers were the “first real indication of progress” in that respect. That’s why the College Board is working with Code.org to expand AP Computer science courses in urban public schools. The Computer Science Principles course will be part of a pilot program in 35 of these schools this fall, before its official debut in 2016.
Code.org is a non-profit organization devoted to making coding accessible. Their Code Studio courses focus on kindergarten through 8th grade, and the program boasts a student population that is 43% women and 37% Black and Hispanic. Compare this to the 20% of women who enroll in AP Computer Science in high school. Black students make up 4% of that population, and Hispanic students 9%. As dire as these numbers might seem, they have been consistently growing.
If you’d like to know more about how to get kids involved in coding, try enrolling in one of Code.org’s Hour of Code sessions. CoderDojo is also a program that introduces coding to young kids, using Scratch and Java—and games. Codeacademy is another free site that kids can learn from.
If you’d like to play a game that teaches you how to code, check out Double Fine’s Hack n’ Slash. It also has a female protagonist!
If there’s one thing we can take from the numbers given by the College Board, it’s that while we haven’t achieved parity or complete accessibility in computer sciences, the field is growing and getting more diverse every year. Let’s keep up the good work.