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Upper School Course Receives Award

Upper School Course Receives Award

Penn Charter has earned the College Board AP Computer Science Female Diversity Award for achieving high female representation in AP Computer Science Principles.

3 highschool girls sit across a table from 3 elementary school kids huddled around a laptop

Computer Science Principles students test their app with Lower School students before delivering to the Garden State Discovery Museum in fall 2020. 

With 50 percent or higher female representation taking the course, Penn Charter was one of 831 schools recognized in the category of AP Computer Science Principles, out of the 20,000 institutions that offer the class. The course at PC, Michael Moulton, director of educational technology at PC, has been offered since the 2016-17 school year, the first year the College Board AP offered the course.

“AP Computer Science Principles is among the ‘new school’ of AP. The College Board built the course from the ground up with equity and inclusion in mind,” said Moulton. He describes the course, and others of this new school, as project-based, interdisciplinary and imbued with higher rigor and relevancy for learning and thriving in workplaces of the future. Moulton said the course is built to attract girls and students of color into a field where both have historically been underrepresented.

Small changes in a way a subject is taught can have a big impact. Studies have shown that students of color are 8-10 times more likely to major in computer science in college if they have taken an AP computer science course in high school. College Board research indicates that female students who take these courses in high school are more than five times as likely to major in computer science in college.

“Some are heading into computer science in college,” Moulton said. In fact, two of the first PC women to take the course are college seniors majoring in, or otherwise deeply involved in, computer science at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, respectively. “But all are going into professions that will require them to be savvy about tech.”

Penn Charter’s association with computer science goes back to the beginning—in fact, to before the beginning. J. Presper Eckert OPC ’37 helped design the ENIAC and the UNIVAC, two of the first electronic digital computers, in the 1940s and 1950s.

Read more about the course in Computer Science with Inspiration, and Equity from Penn Charter's Fall 2019 magazine. 

2020 AP CSP Female Diversity Award logo banner

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