AP Computer Science changes curriculum

Erik Amerikaner returns to teaching course


Bailey Andera/Talon

AP Computer Science students working hard in their classroom.

The 2019-2020 school year has been the first at Oak Park High School to see the introduction of the new AP Computer Science class — AP Computer Science Principles.

Previously, the class’s curriculum was that of AP Computer Science A, a course that is designed to teach a basic understanding of coding via writing, testing and analyzing lines of code, according to AP Central. The course emphasized the importance of problem-solving and largely revolves around Java.

According to an article in  U.S. News called “Choose the Right AP Computer Science Course,” AP Computer Science Principles teaches the introduction to rudimentary computer sciences. It does not rely on any specific programming language, allowing each instructor to choose which to use,states, and focuses on the bigger-picture elements of programming including “algorithms and data, creativity, the internet, programming, cybersecurity and the social implications of the field.”

Sophomore Arnav Subramanian decided to take AP Computer Sciences because he has considered working in the engineering field. He felt that it would be the deciding factor determining whether or not he would want to pursue that career in the future.

“I felt like I would get experience and knowledge out of this. Even if I don’t want to go into the engineering field, I feel like this could help me in my everyday life,” Subramanian wrote to the Talon. “I could create little programs to help with tasks that would take too much effort.”

AP Computer Science Principles teacher Erik Amerikaner did not teach the AP Computer Science course last year, since Susan Verharen taught the course, but has returned to teaching the course this year in the wake of her leave.

“[The program] was developed about five years ago to advocate for women and minorities to become more involved in the computer science world,” Amerikaner said. “Traditionally, it’s been males who have gone into computer coding, and the world has changed completely.”

Medium states that the amount of African American students who took the AP Computer Science exam in 2018 is up 44 percent from the previous year. The amount of Hispanic or Latino students was up 41 percent, and the number of female students rose by 39 percent as well. 

Assistant Principal and Coordinator of Instruction Natalie Smith believes that the new course will encourage more students to become interested in computer sciences, even if they have not had previous programming experience.

“I think it’s hopefully going to bring in a more diverse group of students into [the computer science program],” Smith said. “I advocate that if you can’t take AP Computer Science Principles, that you take some sort of tech classes. It’ll give you a base for an ever-growing field in technology.”