UTeach Institute and University of Texas Computer Science Join Forces to Prepare Students for New AP Computer Science Exam

UTeach Institute and University of Texas Computer Science Join Forces to Prepare Students for New AP Computer Science Exam


On June 4, 2015, the College Board officially endorsed Thriving in Our Digital World, a course developed at The University of Texas at Austin (UT Austin), in preparation for the Fall 2016 launch of the new Advanced Placement (AP) Computer Sciences Principles course. Even as a number of national organizations and others work to launch new CS curricula, UT Austin’s course is one of only three complete curricula currently recognized by the developers of Computer Science Principles as having faithfully implemented the framework.

Thriving in Our Digital World, an interdisciplinary, project-based course designed to introduce high school students to the big ideas in computer science, has been piloted with more than 700 Texas students and revised over the past three school years. The course focuses on current areas of research among real-world computer scientists—like Big Data, artificial intelligence, digital manipulation, and data security. The course was developed with NSF funding in 2010 by a team in the Department of Computer Science led by Dr. Calvin Lin. Michael Marder, Executive Director of UTeach, commented, “Our UT colleagues in Computer Science have successfully developed and tested a high school computer science course that is very much needed, one that engages students who don’t typically take computer science courses through inquiry-based approaches to addressing computer science challenges.”

In an effort to further develop the course and make it available nationally, the UT Department of Computer Science has partnered with the UTeach Institute. UT computer science professor and course developer, Calvin Lin, added, “Our UTeach partners have a record of successfully expanding STEM education innovations. Their unique expertise in this area will go a long way to making this course available to many more teachers and students going forward.” The UTeach Institute will develop a new course, based on the Thriving in Our Digital World course, to be tightly aligned with AP requirements and assessments in an effort to prepare as many secondary students as possible to take the new AP Computer Science exam when it is first offered in Spring 2017. The Institute plans to recruit and train a minimum of 300 secondary teachers to teach the course beginning in Summer 2016.

The UTeach Institute anticipates that, as a result of this initiative, at least 6,000 students will gain access to rigorous Computer Science instruction and will be well equipped to take the new AP Computer Science exam. This work leverages the unique expertise of the UTeach Institute to expand and sustain STEM education innovations, both in Texas and across the United States. The UTeach network includes 44 universities implementing the UTeach secondary STEM teacher preparation program. More than 6,800 students are enrolled in these UTeach programs, and the programs have produced more than 2,100 graduates so far.

Find more information on the UTeach Computer Science page. Please direct inquiries to Alicia Beth, UTeach Institute Manager of Research and Evaluation, at beth [at] uteach.utexas.edu (subject: New%20AP%20Computer%20Science%20Exam) .