October 21, 2019

New AP Computer Science course introduced, replaces Building Android Apps

By Christie Yu '18, Web Editor in Chief

Replacing this year’s computer science elective Building Android Apps, the math department will introduce an AP Computer Science Principles course, a new AP offered by College Board, for the 2017-2018 school year.

This school year, College Board announced an AP Computer Science Principles (AP CSP) exam, which students can take starting in May 2017. This exam is offered in conjunction with the AP Computer Science (AP CSA) exam, which was the original course offered at the high school.

As part of the routine review of the math curriculum, Math Department Head Ms. Elisa Morris, along with Dr. Robert Cohen, decided to offer classes on both the original AP CSA and new AP CSP courses, while removing the Building Android Apps class.

“A lot of the content of Building Android Apps is actually already embedded in the AP CSP course, so we didn’t want to be redundant,” Morris said.

Additionally, Morris explained that the enrollment of Building Android Apps was always “okay”, but never “great”, which is why the Math Department wanted to try something new.

AP CSA focuses on Java programming, as well as algorithmic thinking. The exam involves multiple choice and free-response questions.

“It is a very good curriculum that corresponds to the first course that CS majors take at many colleges,” Cohen said.

AP CSP, on the other hand, focuses on the six “big ideas” of computer science: abstraction, data and information, algorithms, programming, the internet, and global impact. The exam includes a multiple choice section, but also involves evaluation of two in-school projects: a programming project and a research project.

“While there are overlaps between the two courses, I expect the new AP course will attract a wider cross section of students,” Cohen said.

Though Cohen said there are definite benefits to Building Android Apps, such as its convenience as a half-year course and its laid-back atmosphere, AP CSP will likely still focus on Android App development, as well as provide a “computer science course for non-majors,” according to Cohen.

All in all, Morris believes Cohen has made the right choice in replacing Building Android Apps with AP CSP.

“Dr. Cohen thought that, in knowing the direction that students want to go and are going, and where college courses are going, that this is the correct route,” Morris said.

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