Dig Deeper into AP Computer Science

The AP Computer Science exams are widely accepted by the computer science education community as one of the most reliable measures of high school computer science course-taking patterns. The College Board’s rigorous methodology and data gathering has enabled us to see trends in AP Computer Science A exam-taking over time, by state, by gender, and by racial/ethnic group; as well as the impact of AP Computer Science Principles course, which launched in the 2016-17 school year. This page contains a summary of that data.

This data comes directly from the public spreadsheets available on a per-state basis from the College Board.

AP Computer Science Over Time

When evaluating data and trends, it is important to recognize that for the 2020 exam data, COVID-19 likely impacted AP test taking in significant ways that we do not yet completely understand.

Change in race/ethnicity categories: In 2016, the College Board changed the race/ethnicity categories that they report. Prior to 2016, they reported on “American Indian” students; we include this data under the current category of American Indian/Alaska Native (labeled in our chart as Native American/Alaskan). Prior to 2016, they also reported on Mexican American, Puerto Rican, and Other Hispanic students; we include this data under the current category of Hispanic/Latino/Latina. The racial group of Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander was added after 2016.

In order to download the raw data, click the download icon (a square with an arrow pointing downward) in the bottom right corner of the figure. Be sure to click somewhere on the figure before clicking this icon -- otherwise, the "Data" option will be grayed out. Click "Data," then select the "Full data" tab. Click "Download all rows as text file" to download the data as a CSV.

2020 Outcomes

General

The total number of exams taken in CS increased as compared to 2019:

42 states saw an increase in the number of total CS exams taken in 2019 (except AL, AK, ME, MS, MT, NV, OK, VA):

Female student participation

Female student participation in CS increased as compared to 2019:

CSA passing rates (score 3+) were lower for female students than male students but CS P passing rates were higher for female students than male students.

Underrepresented student participation

For 2020 College Board data, we consider the following racial/ethnic group categories to be underrepresented groups in CS: Native American/Alaskan, Black/African American, Hispanic/Latino/Latina, and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander. (Other categories reported by the College Board are Asian, white, two or more races, other, and no response.) Note that until 2016, the College Board reported demographics using different categories; for those years, the following racial/ethnic group categories are considered to be underrepresented groups: American Indian, Black, Mexican American, Puerto Rican, and Other Hispanic. (Other ethnic categories reported by the College Board include Asian, white, other, and not stated.) The majority is defined as White and Asian students.

Native American/Alaskan student participation in CS increased as compared to 2019:

Black/African American student participation in CS increased as compared to 2019, however Black/African American student participation decreased in CSA:

Hispanic/Latino/Latina student participation in CS increased as compared to 2019, however Hispanic/Latino/Latina student participation decreased in CSA:

Native Hawaiian/Pacific Island student participation in CS increased as compared to 2019, however Native Hawaiian/Pacific Island student participation decreased in CSA:

Deep Historical Analysis of State Data by Barb Ericson

Downloads

Code.org performed calculations and analysis on the data as provided on the public College Board AP data reports.