ECEP project increases black students passing AP CS exam

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The Expanding Computing Education Pathways (ECEP) alliance encourages underrepresented minorities to pursue computing education and careers.   However, in 2013 only 1,090 out of 29,555  (3.6%) students self-identified as Black on the Advanced Placement Computer Science A exam.  In addition, the pass rate for Black students is lower than any other racial group both nationally (35.6% vs 69% for White) and in Georgia (22% vs 57.5%).  Georgia Tech’s Institute of Computing Education (ICE), with support from the ECEP alliance, created Project Rise Up 4 CS to address this problem. 
Project Rise Up 4 CS attempts to help more Black students pass AP CS A. Students must self-identify as black, and go through an application process to be admitted to the program. Participants then attend instructional webinars and hands-on learning sessions at Georgia Tech. Student who attend the required number of help sessions, either in-person or online, and pass the exam receive $100.
The project started in January of 2013.  In 2013 there was a 27% increase in the number of Black students who passed the AP CS A exam in Georgia. Comparisons of pre- and post-surveys show that notable gains were made in student confidence, enjoyment, feelings of belonging, and intent to persist in the field.  Thanks to a Google Rise grant received in Jan of 2014 the project has continued in Georgia and has also expanded to Maryland.  The Google Rise grant has also allowed Georgia and Maryland to give students an additional $100 when they attend the required number of help sessions.
Interestingly, students don’t cite the financial incentive as an important element of Project Rise Up 4 CS. The students credit the academic support, the sense of community, and undergraduate student role models with their success.  This implies that other states might be able to replicate the success of Project Rise Up 4 CS by incorporating this project as part of their outreach, or as part of a service-learning course.

In the document link below, find a detailed report of findings in "Project Rise Up 4 CS: Increasing the Number of Black Students who Pass Advanced Placement CS A:"