In April, 1999, the College Board approved a request from the Advanced Placement (AP) Computer Science (CS) Development Committee to form an Ad Hoc Advisory Committee to explore future directions for AP CS. At the college level, AP CS involves material taught in a typical CS1-CS2 sequence; at the high school level, the corresponding course typically is labeled CS AB. The formal charge of the Ad Hoc Committee states:
The charge of this ad hoc committee is to make recommendations to the AP Computer Science Development Committee for changes in the curriculum and whether or not C++ should remain the delivery language. If C++ is still a reasonable option, the current subset should be reexamined. If another language is recommended, then a language subset and any other guidelines deemed necessary will need to be developed.
Since that time, an advisory committee has been appointed, and discussions have begun concerning possible directions for AP CS.
AP provides guidance and resources for teachers and students for challenging, college-level courses in various disciplines within a high school setting.
AP provides a mechanism for those students to receive college credit for that high school work.
To fulfill this mission, AP seeks to identify the content and approach of introductory courses taught by typical colleges and universities, to codify that material in published course descriptions, and to develop and administer examinations in various subject areas. In particular, subject Development Committees develop course descriptions and examinations, based on an understanding of what colleges and universities are teaching. Development Committees also must try to anticipate new directions that colleges and universities will follow, so that examinations will evolve in ways consistent with trends at the college and university level.
In computer science, this mission is particularly difficult for several important reasons:
Altogether, the AP CS Development Committee must identify and anticipate a common middle ground of college and university practice.
While the computer science community may have a very diverse range of goals and approaches for introductory computer science, the AP CS Ad Hoc Committee is taking a step-wise approach to determine to what extent there might be consensus in some areas. This is prompting the following possible outline for Committee work:
First call for input: Goals for the end of the CS1-CS2 introductory sequence
Second call for input: Some principles governing language selection for CS1-CS2
June 16, 2000 Update: Letter to SIGCSE.MEMBERS@ACM.ORG
Third call for input: Letter from Esther Tesar
A session for discussion with the Advisory Committee has been scheduled at SIGCSE 2000 on Friday, March 10, 2000 at 4:00. At that time, the Committee plans to make some initial comments and then listen to comments from the audience.
As your SIGCSE representative on the Committee, I especially welcome your comments.
ETS and AP CS are making an on-going effort to identify resources and grants that might help needy school districts to obtain both the hardware and the software needed to support the current C++-based course. Any suggestions would be welcomed.
The AP CS Development Committee has expressed its interest engaging the computer science community in an on-going dialog about possible revisions and new directions for AP CS. Toward that end, the Development Committee has worked to provide more opportunities during the annual SIGCSE Symposium for sessions and discussions. The newly-appointed Ad Hoc Advisory Committee represents another forum for feedback and interaction.
Suggestions concerning this World Wide Web page are welcome.
Henry M. Walker (firstname.lastname@example.org)