Dozens of industry, education, and state leaders support new Code.org AP curriculum

Code.org will launch this free AP CSA curriculum for all schools starting in the 2022–23 school year.

In late February, we announced that Code.org is developing a first-of-its-kind curriculum for the AP Computer Science A (CSA) Java programming course with an intentional focus on increasing student access, participation, and diversity.

With cross-sector support, Code.org is developing a first-of-its-kind Computer Science A (CSA) Java programming curriculum designed with equity at its core. (Photo by Code.org)

Today, we are thrilled to announce incredible momentum behind this effort, with support from 7 state governments, 17 corporations, and 14 higher education institutions supporting us in creating the new curriculum. Leaders from the technology industry and academia are participating in two unique advisory councils where they will give us valuable insights throughout curriculum development and help us understand how best to prepare all students for continuing pathways in computer science.

State government support for computer science continues to grow

State leaders from the following states have all pledged to expand AP CSA and committed to encouraging all high schools in their states to offer computer science:

  • Connecticut
  • Michigan
  • New Mexico
  • Oklahoma
  • Ohio
  • Georgia
  • Pennsylvania

State leaders from Connecticut, one of the latest states to take the pledge, expressed their excitement and enthusiasm for expanding CS in their state.

“High-skill and high-wage careers in computer science are in high-demand, but too often, women are vastly underrepresented in this field, resulting in a large gender gap. We can close that gender gap by supporting and implementing innovative curriculums, such as the AP Computer Science A (CSA) Java programming course, which will introduce students to coding early on in their academic studies. Courses like this will empower our students to be creators of technological applications, not just consumers. As chairwoman of the Governor’s Council on Women and Girls, I am excited to support this curriculum which will help us better prepare students, particularly young women, to pursue a computer science education and career.” — Connecticut Lt. Governor Susan Bysiewicz

“As a state, we are making great progress in advancing computer science in our schools and classrooms. By partnering with industry leaders to expand access to AP level computer science classes, we can better empower students — especially those historically underrepresented — to pursue pathways to the high-wage, in-demand STEAM-focused careers that await them.” — Charlene Russell-Tucker, Connecticut Acting Commissioner of Education

Our Industry Advisory Council includes representatives from:

Participants on the Industry Advisory Council will be asked to brainstorm ideas for how our curriculum can support diverse students to see themselves as software engineers, help us understand how this course can prepare students for professional software engineer positions in the workforce, and offer feedback on other aspects of curriculum design and implementation. We believe that close connection to industry is key to developing material that will ultimately help students succeed in whatever path they choose.

See the end of this post for what representatives from some of these organizations have to say about their involvement.

Our Education Advisory Council includes representatives from:

The Education Advisory Council will consider the curriculum objectives through the lens of Higher Education. This is particularly important given that the AP CSA course was created by the College Board to map to a first-year computer science course at a university.

Our goal is for our course materials to line up with this assumption, and that our curriculum prepares students for the next step in their education, should they decide to continue on. The Education Advisory Council will also support our work to broaden participation in CS through the course.

See the end of this post for what representatives from some of these participating colleges and universities have to say about their involvement.

What’s next?

Code.org will launch this new curriculum for AP CSA and make it available at no cost for all schools starting in the 2022–23 school year. Teachers can sign up for professional development workshops to teach the material in 2022. Teachers and others can sign up here to receive news and updates as the curriculum development progresses.

Teachers who are interested in taking a workshop for our existing CS Principles curriculum can apply here.

A Code.org curriculum for the AP CSA course is a need we’ve heard over and over from our CS teachers around the country, and we’re excited to approach the creation of this curriculum with the same rigor and perspective that has made our K-12 curricula the most widely-used in the country.

At a time when AP CSA has extremely low representation of young women and students from marginalized racial and ethnic groups, we believe we can reimagine how this content is taught to change the face of computing and broaden access to underserved students. This work is all made possible through a generous gift from Amazon Future Engineer.

We know that developing a successful curriculum that adequately prepares students for their future will take a collective effort. We are proud to have support from the organizations on both Advisory Councils, as well as support from state governments and lawmakers. Each step brings us closer to our vision of bringing computer science to all students, in all schools. Thank you for joining us on this journey!

-Emily McLeod and Hannah Walden, Code.org

Here’s what representatives from some participating companies had to say about their involvement in the Industry Advisory Council:

“We at Amazon Future Engineer are excited to help Code.org bring a new CSA course to life — especially one grounded in real-world software development practices. As someone who has been both a teacher of college computer science students and a software engineer at tech companies, I know early exposure helps students take their next step. This is especially true for students in underrepresented groups we most hope to reach.” Pedrito Maynard-Zhang, PhD, Sr. Software Development Engineer, Amazon Future Engineer

“Atlassian Foundation seeks to improve educational opportunities for disadvantaged young people around the world, equipping them with the skills they need to thrive in the 21st century. Computer literacy and the basic logic and critical thinking skills gained through computer science education are becoming increasingly crucial to achieving success in the workplace and beyond. Atlassian Foundation is thrilled to support code.org (http://code.org/) to provide opportunities for a more diverse set of students to learn computer science as it is an opportunity to both equip youth with critical 21st-century skills while also helping to broaden the talent pipeline for the technology sector and drive future innovation.” Steve Goldsmith, Atlassian Head of Product, Integrations

“Epic Games is thrilled to be welcomed as members of the code.org Industry Advisory Council and to assist in the expansion of their AP Computer Science curriculum,” said Steve Isaacs, Education Program Manager, Epic Games. “Our mission is to support students, educators, and anyone seeking to develop Unreal Engine and interactive 3D skills as they prepare for rewarding careers across a wide variety of industries.” Steve Isaacs, Education Program Manager for Epic Games

“This is a very important effort to drive computer science education for a broad and diverse high school student body. As a researcher and educator I am very excited to have the opportunity to contribute to the CSA curriculum and shape the next generation of computer scientists and engineers at an early phase so they can enter higher education and industry with the skills required to succeed.” Hubertus Franke, PhD, Distinguished Research Staff Member at IBM

“It is exciting to see Code.org include the voices of industry to ensure students going through their program have all the tools they need to be successful both academically and as they continue their journey in computer science. We hope our perspectives help Code.org create a strong foundation for these students.” Miriam Brady, Senior Program Manager, Microsoft Philanthropies

“Diversity and Inclusion has always been high on our agenda at Spotify, and we are excited to help in the creation of code.org’s new AP Computer Science curriculum as members of the Industry Advisory Council. We really look forward to having an impact on this effort to expand the accessibility of computer science to all.” Alex Krupp, Head of Technical Education at Spotify and Dave Zolotusky, Sr. Staff Engineer, Spotify Platform Team

“Taking AP Computer Science in high school motivated me to study the field in college and later join Tesla Autopilot. I hope CSA provides students with greater access to computer science and spring-boards their journeys into building technology.” Kate Park, Senior AI Project Manager at Tesla

“So many employers today can’t find enough talent to fill open tech positions. And the jobs of tomorrow will require tech fluency and coding know-how even more. I’m really excited to see this curriculum from code.org come to life. It approaches coding in ways that appeal broadly to students, not just to students who are already interested in coding. The curriculum is fun and student-driven, it incorporates student-choice projects, and the platform for learning is easy and frictionless for educators and students to collaborate. The curriculum includes scaffolding and resources for educators to teach coding in ways that appeal to students from backgrounds that are currently underrepresented in tech fields.

It’s especially exciting to see that this curriculum not only builds students’ coding skills, it also teaches transferable skills like problem solving, troubleshooting, collaboration, and project design and management — all core skills for industry career success.

I’m really impressed that code.org works so closely with future-focused industry partners to validate their plans. Together, education, industry and code.org can really make a difference in bringing coding education to groups of students who are at risk of being left behind as jobs continue to evolve to require coding know-how.” Melissa Oldrin, Senior Manager, Unity Global Education Programs

“At Vista Equity Partners, we believe the transformative power of technology is the key to a better future, providing access, opportunity and economic inclusion. For young people today, digital fluency, coding and computer science education is fundamental to opportunity and success, building pathways for untapped potential across underrepresented groups. We are honored to be included in Code.org’s Industry Advisory Council and to support the expansion of the AP Computer Science program.” Robert F. Smith, Founder, Chairman and CEO, Vista Equity Partners

Here’s what representatives from some participating colleges and universities had to say about their involvement in the Education Advisory Council:

“The pillars of learning to reach ALL students are Diversity, Empathy, Equity, and Inclusion. Our teachers in high school and faculty in higher education are committed and excited to partner with Code.org as we strive to engage and teach ALL students to discover the power of computing.” Lethia Jackson, Bowie State

“There is no question that Computer Science is a fundamental 21st century literacy. And there is no question that many parents and students alike are interested in learning about computing. There are many, many efforts throughout the K-8 space to promote and encourage computational thinking in a variety of interesting and engaging ways. This effort by Code.org to look at a new delivery model for a curriculum that (depending on how you look at things) has been on the books since 2004 recognizes that both Computer Science and CS pedagogy (and pedagogy in general) look a lot different now than in 2004. This effort should appeal to teachers looking to refresh an extant APCS-A offering, or to leverage a curricular platform that they may be using in APCS-P to offer a new APCS-A at their school in a familiar environment.” Mark Stehlik, Carnegie Mellon University

“Decisions about what to teach along with how it is taught make a big difference in who feels like they belong in computer science! Through its emphasis on equity in this AP CS A initiative, Code.org can encourage many underrepresented students to pursue education and careers in technology.” Dale Reed, University of Illinois — Chicago

“Our faculty are strongly committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion, especially in computing, which has immense power to shape the world. Code.org’s new AP CSA curriculum could be a powerful lever for not only broadening participation in CS, but also for engaging youth in discourse about power, and how to use and share it responsibly.” Amy Ko, University of Washington

Code.org® is dedicated to expanding access to computer science increasing participation by young women and students from other underrepresented groups.