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Average HS Student Given Little Chance of AP CS Success

parliboy Teacher here.... (293 comments)

I teach a section of AP Computer Science, so I'm getting a kick out of these replies...

To people who don't have any programming experience coming in to the course, the class is a real bear. One of the big issues from the early days of the exam was the push-and-pull between high school instructors and college professors over just what an AP computer science student should proficiently be able to do.

The professors won, and began to dominate the content choices of the course and the exam. Of course, they were full of shit when they did so, and found that people who passed the course weren't usually well prepared for additional CS courses unless they had additional experience outside of APCS. This means that APCS wasn't the predictor it should have been. So there's been all kinds of fun content changes over the years. (I'm not talking about the language change from Pascal to C++ to Java; the material on the exam will be changing about 20% for just the coming year, for example, and I'm making sure I'm at an AP seminar this summer so I can properly prepare.)

As trite as it sounds, part of the challenge is funding. In Texas, where I teach, AP Computer Science is funded with the usual tax dollars, where "business programming", which is too often VB-oriented, is funded at a higher level, making it a more attractive course if you're going to teach programming. Districts and high schools are financially disincentivized from offering this course, and lesser resources are generally available.

Want to teach Microsoft Office? Here, have a brand new lab. Then have a new one three years later. Want APCS? We're sure we can scrounge up something for you. And then they wonder why no one teaches AP Computer Science. Don't get me wrong; I actually think there's a lot of value to be gained out of a properly taught Office course with proper content. But the imbalance is too great.

About 5 years ago, I was asked to go to a meeting of all of the AP teachers of the East region of Houston ISD, in order the share information and resources. (This was back when they grouped schools by geographic regions.) I really didn't want to go, but our counselor convinced me that it was important. So many if not most of the AP teachers are sitting there on gym bleachers. And we're told to meet our cohorts and talk amongst ourselves. And all of these signs go up for the different courses -- US History, Spanish, etc. And I'm sitting there at Computer Science. Then I look to my left, look to my right. And I realized that I'm the only one.

And that's what it's like to be an AP Computer Science teacher.

about 7 months ago

Adam Carolla Joins Fight Against Podcast Patent Troll

parliboy Re:Personal Audio (126 comments)

I, for one, am shocked to discover that this is an East Texas address.

about 10 months ago

Florida Thinks Their Students Are Too Stupid To Know the Right Answers

parliboy Re:The most important lesson in life being taught (663 comments)

I teach at a school that is more teacher-heavy than that. 3 to 4 teachers per core area, plus languages, technology, and other electives. Compare this to two admins, one counselor, 5 office staff (one of whom took over my technology responsibilities to give me cover), and 4 custodians / plant operators. The district's curriculum specialists were shown the door.

It used to be even more teacher-heavy for awhile, but a prior administration tried to add more non-teaching positions in order to solidify power. After that administration left, we found a ... Happy medium.

It is possible to have a teacher-driven school, but it means committing to more hats than just teaching. In my case, I handle admissions scoring and course registration, as well as other issues that would normally require additional office staff.

That's the big rub of this. There are things that have to be done to keep a campus functioning. If teachers want more power, they have to assume these responsibilities, and they have to defend them, lest the school become too office-heavy. But very often, teachers (on both a personal and union level) have often taken a position of "We aren't required to do that; go away." So that position is one of the things that has caused teachers to lose power over the years.

more than 2 years ago

For Windows 8 Users, Stardock Revives the Start Menu

parliboy Re:Validity? (370 comments)

And when you start typing the name of what you want to run in the search box, it still doesn't find it?

more than 2 years ago

YouTube Identifies Birdsong As Copyrighted Music

parliboy Re:Profit & Lies (730 comments)

I don't expect all videos to be manually reviewed. I do expect all disputes to automated claims to be manually reviewed, within 48 hours, and resolved correctly. That didn't happen here.

Rumblefish screwed up, end-of-story. Hopefully they realize the problems with their processes and implement better ones. If so, then this might be accepted as a one-off.

more than 2 years ago

Judge In Oracle-Google Case Given Crash Course in Java

parliboy Re:Why not ? (181 comments)

Judges in many jurisdictions are appointed to levels that reflect their competence. Good or well-connected judges get high-profile dockets, while bottom-feeders get traffic court.

You got the substitute judge for traffic court. So, yeah, the rest of humanity is sorry about that.

more than 3 years ago

AT&T Sued For Systematic iPhone Overbilling

parliboy Re:AT&T's Fault? (265 comments)

I got some data billing from AT&T a couple of years ago due to international usage overage. I got a lot of 0.6k line items on my bill from frequent checks. But nothing like 10k at a pop.

more than 3 years ago

Jeopardy-Playing Supercomputer Beats Humans

parliboy Re:Soon, no more call centers (220 comments)

Except that 1) Before And After is also a category on Jeopardy and 2) it was a category in run-throughs for Watson:

In a test tourney, Watson hit the bullseye on a question about clothing a young girl might wear on an operatic ship. The answer, pinafore, is also found in the title of the Gilbert & Sullivan opera H.M.S. Pinafore. And the computer was also successful with a before-and-after Jeopardy question about a candy bar and a Supreme Court justice, Baby Ruth Bader-Ginsberg. But earlier in its career, when asked, "What does a grasshopper eat?", it responded, "Kosher."

Source: http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/storm/Jeopardy_A_Computer_Takes_on_Ken_Jennings_and_Brad_Rutter_.html

about 4 years ago

The Hurt Locker Producers Sue First 5,000 File-Sharers

parliboy Re:Damages (861 comments)

I'm fine with the idea that the penalty for downloading a movie should be more appropriate to the cost of the movie. However, keep in mind that the lawsuit is focusing on Bittorrent users. By the nature of the protocol, the downloaders were also uploading. So what should the uploaders have to pay?

more than 4 years ago

Australian Women Fight Over "Geekgirl" Trademark

parliboy Re:Who will win? (187 comments)

Clearly, this is why laptops will now be searched for porn at Australian customs -- to prevent too much intellectual property from ending up in the hands of foreign interests.

more than 4 years ago

Is Internet Explorer 6/7 Support Required Now?

parliboy Houston ISD & IE6 (512 comments)

A slightly related story:

I teach in Houston Independent School District. Due to a recent change, we are required to use Internet Explorer to log into our online gradebooks when on campus. There is no technological basis for this, as running a user agent switcher with Firefox causes no problems. And yes, IE 6 is an allowable agent.

Of course, when we log in from home via the HISD-provided VPN client, it doesn't matter what browser we use.

Also of course, we can use that VPN client at work, and it doesn't matter what browser we use.

So yeah, it's just been a big bag of bureaucracy.

Allow me to tell you some time about their wireless networking policy changes that start next week. That's a whole other ball of fail.

more than 4 years ago

Woz Cites "Scary" Prius Acceleration Software Problem

parliboy Re:Woz, you're an idiot (749 comments)

I don't know about this. My PT Cruiser, if it drops enough speed when going up a hill or overpass on cruise control, will rev up quite a bit to make up speed. I actually base my speed decisions on the inclines of the road.

more than 4 years ago

City Laws Only Available Via $200 License

parliboy Re:Do people on a jury have to pay $200 as well? (411 comments)

A jury's job has nothing to do with knowing the law, nullification advocacy aside. Juries decide facts based on the testimony, evidence, and judge's instructions based on the law.

more than 5 years ago

Malcolm Gladwell Challenges the Idea of "Free"

parliboy Watched his keynote Sunday at NECC09... (206 comments)

...and it was basically a verbal blowjob for KIPP. When he wasn't doing that, he was praising Japanese models while poo-pooing different levels of ability, while Japanese models are super differentiated to the point that you have to earn your way into high school. Just a hodgepodge of inconsistencies that made his speech (pun intended) an outlier.

more than 5 years ago

iPhone Users Angry Over AT&T Upgrade Policy

parliboy Re:Confused Definition (789 comments)

Cingular, which morphed into AT&T, is/was the only cell provider I have had in my entire life. I have a 3G. How bout a little love for my loyalty?

more than 5 years ago

Do We Need a New Internet?

parliboy Re:No way in hell! (690 comments)

So, when people are buying freaky tentacle porn, they should be okay with giving up anonymity?

more than 5 years ago

Google Terminates Six Services

parliboy Dear asshats @ google: (195 comments)

I teach at a school district where YouTube is blocked. If I want to look up something to show on the fly, Google video is an option; YouTube is not. Discontinuing uploads to Google Video means I use your services less, not more.


about 6 years ago


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