Something is Rotten
While most US high school computer science classes are reviewing like mad for the AP exam (18 days from today!), Cay Horstmann, author of Big Java, Java Concepts, and the AP CS GridWorld case study says:
“Standardized exams are dull. You think AP CS is dull? Look at AP Calculus to see how all life has been sucked out of a discipline. And they are dull by necessity. They must be easy to administer and easy to grade. That’s why the AP CS exam has inane multiple-choice questions and a pencil-and-paper programming part that rewards fast scribbling of an approximation of the proper incantations.”
More and more high schools are moving beyond the AP exam and curriculum in all subjects. We’ve been saying that AP classes both help our students get into college and save money on credits when they get there. The former seems to be demonstrably unnecessary, the latter I’m less sure about.
So let us wax desperate with imagination for a moment: What if we weren’t bound to the AP curriculum? What should high school computer science look like? In other words, what are the skills, knowledge, and experiences that will support success in both university-level computer science and in computational thinking across disciplines? Or do we need to separate majors from non-majors at the high school level?