AllentownSchool District

William Allen High School Earns College Board AP Computer Science Female Diversity Award

William Allen High School Earns College Board AP Computer Science Female Diversity Award
Posted on 01/27/2023
Allentown, PA- William Allen High School (WAHS) has earned the College Board AP® Computer Science Female Diversity Award for achieving high female representation in AP Computer Science Principles. Schools honored with the AP Computer Science Female Diversity Award have expanded girls’ access in AP computer science courses. 

More than 1,100 institutions achieved either 50% or higher female representation in one of the two AP computer science courses or a percentage of the female computer science exam takers meeting or exceeding that of the school’s female population during the 2021-22 school year. In 2022, William Allen High School was one of 832 recognized in the category of AP Computer Science Principles (CSP).

AP Computer Science was introduced at WAHS in the 2019-2020 school year, which was cut short by the COVID-19 pandemic. As the district develops more career-specific pathways to graduation, interest in Computer Technology has risen. At Allen, the Academy of Computer Technology, which encourages students to take APCS in 11th or 12th grade, is to provide instruction and experiences, which will lead to computer-based careers in the 21st century. The school credits retired WAHS AP Computer Science Teacher Karen Comegys for the success of the course. Ms. Comegys retired in 2022 and turned over the course to Mr. Joshua Bankus, who is building on her passion for the subject. 

“Mr. Bankus is an inspiring teacher who has built great relationships with students beyond the classroom. He is highly visible in our athletic and school community, which helps students connect with him on a better level, and gets them interested in computer science courses,” said Dr. Brandy Sawyer, Executive Director of Curriculum and Educator Supports in Allentown. 
“The Allentown School District is always looking for ways to create equitable opportunities for underrepresented populations, and the staff at William Allen High School has created a welcoming environment for young women interested in Computer Science,” she continued.  

“Computer science is the source code of our economy and so much of our daily lives,” said Trevor Packer, College Board Head of the AP Program. “In the five years since we began the AP Computer Science Female Diversity Award, it’s been heartening to see schools like William Allen welcome so many more young women into this vital field.”

The first year of AP Computer Science Principles in 2016-17 attracted more students than any other AP course debut, and participation is on the rise nationwide. In 2022,134,651 students took the AP CSP Exam—more than triple the number of exam takers in the course’s first year. In 2022, 44,811 women took the AP CSP Exam, more than three times the number who tested in 2017.

Providing female students with access to computer science courses is critical to ensuring gender parity in the industry’s high-paying jobs and to driving innovation, creativity, and representation. The median annual wage for computer and information technology occupations was $97,430 in May 2021. However, women represent just 24% of the five million people in computing occupations. 

That’s why College Board research about AP CSP is so encouraging. According to the data, female students who take AP CSP in high school are more than five times as likely to major in computer science in college, compared to female students of similar background and academic preparation who did not take CSP. The study also finds AP CSP students are nearly twice as likely to enroll in AP CSA, and that for most students, AP CSP serves as a stepping stone to other advanced AP STEM coursework.

These findings highlight the importance of schools nationwide achieving gender parity in AP computer science classrooms. Overall, female students remain underrepresented in our high school computer science classes, accounting for just 33% of AP Computer Science Principles participants and 25% of AP Computer Science A participants. Currently, 51% of the nation’s high schools teach foundational computer science. The 1,105 schools that receive this year’s AP Computer Science Female Diversity Award serve as inspirations and models for all U.S. high schools.