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Georgia Again 'Counts' AP CS

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Mark Guzdial

Georgia Institute of Technology professor Mark Guzdial

I wrote a few weeks ago about a decision made by the Georgia Department of Education to no longer "count" Advanced Placement (AP) Computer Science towards high school graduation requirements.  Until October 1, it had counted as a fourth "science" class, and only Texas of the other states also accepted AP CS for high school graduation credit.

Upon further review, the University System of Georgia's Board of Regents has decided that AP CS would count for university admissions requirements.  Their decision was really quite insightful.  CS will now be part of a new category in admissions -- not career training, not math, and not science.  What's more, CS will count as either a science or a mathematics course towards admissions requirements.

In Georgia, the Department of Education and Board of Regents work together, so that high school graduation requirements match university admissions requirements.  So, after the Board of Regents' decision, the Department of Education re-considered.

The decision of the Department of Education is to put things back the way they were before Oct 1.  AP CS counts as a fourth "science" class towards graduation, but it's still considered part of the Career, Technical, and Agricultural Education (CTAE) Division.  It's still about business, about vocational training.

AP CS won't count as a mathematics course for high school graduation.  Two different committees reviewed the AP CS curriculum and came to the conclusion that AP CS does not meet any existing mathematics standards.  That's really pretty interesting from a couple directions.

  • Does AP CS contain mathematics that is identifiable and useful to high school students?  Of course, most computer science classes contain a lot of mathematics content.  Does AP CS?  Could an outsider tell?
  • Do the math standards include the kinds of mathematics that should appear in a computing course?  How would we convince the mathematicians who make these standards that mathematics in computing is important and should be part of those standards?

The question is, "Who has to change? Our course, or the standards?"

In any case, we're breathing a sigh of relief in Georgia, and even have cause for some hope.  Maybe a broader view of computing is starting to emerge, that it really is something new and useful beyond being just for vocational training.  But that's Georgia. Next?


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