Program allows Eastside to offer AP computer science

Published: Wednesday, June 26, 2013 at 3:28 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, June 26, 2013 at 3:28 p.m.

Eastside High School is participating in the new Advanced Placement STEM Access program, allowing its students to take AP computer science in the fall.

The school is one of more than 300 schools across the country that will be participating in the program, which has created more than 500 new AP courses in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, according to an AP news release.

Karen Clarke, director of secondary curriculum of the Alachua County School Board, said the program is targeted to underrepresented minority and female students, but the course will be available to all students.

The program is “created to increase the number of traditionally underrepresented minority and female high school students that participate in Advanced Placement courses in STEM disciplines,” according to the release.

“We emphasize a school-wide college-going culture and actively identify minority students to take AP classes,” said Jeff Charbonnet, principal of Eastside High School, in the news release.

He said when students are given the opportunity to study computer science before going to college, it will better prepare them for college and can help them pursue STEM careers.

Clarke said another reason Eastside High School was picked for the program was because the school has a high potential for students to be successful in one or more AP classes. She said students’ performance on the PSAT correlates with their success on AP exams. The PSAT scores Eastside High School students posted proved they could take on the AP computer science course, she said.

“We’re very excited about it,” Clarke said. “Any time you can increase AP offerings, that’s a good thing.”

Eastside High School does not have a STEM program, but it does offer STEM courses such as AP chemistry, biology and calculus.

Funding for the AP STEM Access program was awarded by Google to with a $5 million grant as part of Google’s new Global Impact Awards, which help support organizations using technology and innovative approaches to “tackle some of the world’s toughest human challenges,” the release stated.

This funding will help Eastside get class materials, textbooks, lab and technology equipment and other resources for the new computer science.

Caitlin Sinett is a Gainesville Sun correspondent.

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