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AP and IB Computer Science Credits

by Jennifer Bergland
computer science credits

As districts are creating their course selection sheets for their secondary students, some questions surrounding the actions by the State Board of Education are circulating among districts. At the center of the conversation is the fact that completion of AP Computer Science A now receives two credits. Some districts are interpreting this to mean that AP CS A must be scheduled for a two-hour block instead of the traditional one hour, while others are viewing this as optional. Which is it?

Background

For years, AP Computer Science A counted as an elective or as a math credit. If the student needed an advanced math credit, they could use AP CS A to satisfy this requirement. If they already had all of their required math credits, then it would count as an elective.

 In 2016, as a result of HB 5 passed in the 83rd Texas Legislative session, the SBOE approved three computer science courses to satisfy the languages other than English credit. These courses were:

  • Computer Science I
  • Computer Science II
  • Computer Science III

The board did not include AP Computer Science A because it had already been designated as a math or an elective credit. This inhibited some students from taking advantage of the provision in HB 5 that allowed students to substitute two computer programming courses for their LOTE credits. Many districts did not offer Computer Science II. Instead they offered CS I and AP CS A as the second course. This meant that students who did not want to take an AP course, but were enrolled in districts that only offered AP CS A as the second course in the sequence, were not able to substitute two computer programming courses for their LOTE credits as specified in HB 5.

In April of 2018, the SBOE expanded the list of courses that could count as a computer programming language that would meet the languages other than English requirement. The rule went into effect on June 2018. The courses that satisfy this option are:

  • Computer Science I
  • Computer Science II
  • Computer Science III
  • AP Computer Science Principles
  • AP Computer Science A
  • International Baccalaureate Computer Science Standard Level
  • International Baccalaureate Computer Science Higher Level
Photo by Aristo Rinjuang on Unsplash

In addition, the SBOE made some changes that affected the IB and AP computer science courses. Beginning with the 2018-2019 academic school year, students shall be awarded two credits for the successful completion of AP CS A and two credits for the completion of IB Computer Science Higher Level. The board also adopted a rule that a district shall allow a student who successfully completes AP Computer Science A or IB Computer Science High Level to satisfy both one advanced math requirement and one language other than English requirement (TAC 74.11(k)). This rule when into effect on August 27, 2018.

PEIMS

On August 1, 2018 TEA posted the following PEIMS numbers for these courses. Note that for each course there are two PEIMS numbers:

Implementation of These Computer Science Credits

According to the SBOE rules, districts do not have an option as to whether they give one or two credits for these two courses. However, they do have the option to how much time is necessary to learn the standards. The education code stipulates that districts are required to provide sufficient time for teachers to teach and for students to learn the content of a course. This is a local decision. If your students were able to master the standards in one period a day in prior years, there is no need to increase the seat time.

lt is important to note the reason the SBOE decided to provide two credits for AP CS. It now counts for both an advanced math credit and a LOTE credit. When the SBOE was deliberating this issue, the rationale they used for making this change, pivoted on this question: If a course had enough content to count as a math credit or a LOTE credit, then shouldn’t a student be given both. It is one course that satisfies both an advanced math AND a LOTE credit. If a student does not need one or both of these graduation requirements, then AP CS A counts as two elective credits.

If you or your district has any questions, contact the Curriculum Standards and Student Support Division of the Texas Education Agency at [email protected].

Photo of computer screen with code by Sai Kiran Anagani on Unsplash

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