Girl power nets Xavier first round of College Board AP Computer Science award

Xavier College Preparatory’s AP Computer Science A students learn about cyber security at GCU’s Cyber Warfare range March 13. (courtesy photo)

Xavier College Preparatory has earned the first College Board AP® Computer Science Female Diversity Award for achieving high female representation in AP Computer Science A and AP Computer Science Principles. Schools honored with the AP Computer Science Female Diversity Award have expanded girls’ access in AP Computer Science courses.

Other Catholic school honorees

California — St. Francis High School

Connecticut — Convent of the Sacred Heart, Mercy High School

Kentucky — Assumption High School

Maryland — Institute of Notre Dame, St. Paul’s School for Girls

New Jersey — Oak Knoll School of the Holy Child 

New York — Notre Dame Academy High School

Pennsylvania — Villa Maria Academy

Rhode Island — St. Mary Academy Bay View

Out of more than 18,000 secondary schools worldwide that offer AP courses, Xavier College Prep is one of only 685 to accomplish this. Only 28 schools, including Xavier and 12 other Catholic high schools, earned awards for female representation in both AP Computer Science courses. The majority of those are all-girl schools.

“We’re honored by this recognition and are proud of our students studying computer science for their achievements,” said Sr. Joan Nuckols, principal. “We’re committed to continuing to provide our students with access to AP Computer Science courses to help prepare a more diverse workforce in critical STEM jobs. As an all girls school, we couldn’t be more proud of these exceptionally talented female computer scientists.”

Schools receiving the AP Computer Science Female Diversity Award have either 50% or higher female representation in one of the two AP computer science courses or a percentage of the female computer science examinees meeting or exceeding that of the school’s female population. Only 28 schools have earned the AP Computer Science Female Diversity Award for both AP Computer Science A and Computer Science Principles.

“By inviting so many of our students to advanced computer science classrooms, Xavier College Prep has taken a significant step toward preparing their students for the widest range of 21st-century opportunities,” said Trevor Packer, College Board senior vice president of the AP Program. “We hope this inspires many other high schools to engage more female students in AP Computer Science and prepare them to drive innovation.”

The AP Computer Science Principles course launch in 2016 was the largest in Program history. AP Computer Science Principles has promoted the growth of AP computer science in high schools. AP computer science course participation increased 135% since 2016, broadening STEM career opportunities for more students. The number of female, rural, and underrepresented minority students taking AP computer science exams has more than doubled in that period.

Providing female students with access to computer science courses contributes to gender parity in the industry’s high-paying jobs and drives innovation, creativity, and competition. According to UNESCO’s Institute of Statistics data, less than 30% of the world’s researchers are women; in North America and Western Europe, it’s just 32%. Research shows women are more likely to pursue computer science if they’re given the opportunity to explore it in high school.

Related: Hand-On AP Computer Science Principles course… is changing how diverse group of students see themselves (from The 74 million, a news site covering education for America’s 74 million children)