Questions about the Explore Performance Task Rubric
What changed in the scoring guidelines for the Explore—Impact of Computing Innovations performance task?
On November 11, 2016, the AP Program announced that updates to the scoring guidelines for the Explore Performance Task were made to ensure better scoring reliability during the AP Reading. The new guidelines include seven criteria that will be used to score sample student responses. Please note that while the structure of the rubric is different, the performance task directions have not changed; therefore the expectations for student submissions have not changed. If you were using the previous scoring guidelines with your students, they will still be well prepared to submit their Explore Performance Task. The new rubric continues to focus on major requirements of the task. We have also provided five new sample student responses, with accompanying scoring commentary and student performance Q & A.
If students have already started the Explore Performance Task, should I provide them with additional classroom hours to write or revise now that there are new Scoring Guidelines?
Because the Explore performance task directions have not changed, teachers need only provide students with the required 8 hours of class time. Students should not need additional time to complete the task. However, teachers may provide class time to allow students to review and revise their work using the updated Scoring Guidelines (.pdf/3.1MB).
If students have already uploaded the Explore performance task to the AP Digital Portfolio, do they need to complete the task again and resubmit?
Students do not need to complete or upload a new response. As long as the teacher has not made final submissions to College Board, students are allowed to review their uploaded response to ensure they are satisfied it meets the requirements in the new Scoring Guidelines. They will not be penalized in any way for doing this. All final submissions must be completed on or before April 30.
The Explore performance task directions indicate that at least two of the sources must have been created after the end of the previous academic year. What is the acceptable date for the end of the previous academic year?
May 1 st. For example, for this academic year (2016-17), at least two of the references should be dated after May 1, 2016. This date applies for all schools with year-long and block scheduled AP courses.
What types of computing innovations can students investigate for the Explore performance task?
For this course, a computing innovation is considered any innovation that depends on computing or computing tools (i.e., includes a computer or program code) to define its functionality. The computing innovation should meet all of the requirements of the Explore — Impact of Computing Innovation task in the AP Computer Science Principles Course and Exam Description.
For the Explore performance task, where can students provide inline citations and references for the computational artifact?
If students are incorporating work that requires attributions into their computational artifact, students should consider the following:
If the computational artifact is a video: In addition to including a list of references within the video or as part of the written response, students can provide titled text in the video with the appropriate attribution for specific portions, or provide the attributions verbally as part of a voice over in the video if voice is included.
If the computational artifact is an image or a collection of images: In addition to including a list of references as part of the written response, students can organize the images (e.g., using a numbering system, or providing information about the placement of the images (upper left, bottom right, etc.)) and provide text as part of the image or the written response to include the appropriate attributions.
Questions about the course
Do I need specific experience to teach AP Computer Science Principles?
It helps to have a fundamental understanding of computer science to teach this course. However, due to the broad and multidisciplinary nature of the course, you do not need to have prior computer science experience.
While STEM teachers may be particularly suited to teach the course, teachers of all backgrounds will have the opportunity for professional development to supplement their experience, including AP Summer Institutes and one-day workshops. Teachers with less computer science experience can also explore professional development offered by College Board endorsed providers.
Additionally, states determine their own requirements for teacher certification and endorsement. Be sure to check out your state-specific computer science teacher certification requirements.
Do I need to know a specific programming language to teach the course?
There is no designated programming language for the course. You have the flexibility to choose the programming language that is most appropriate for you or your students to use in the classroom. A list of suggested programming languages is provided in the AP Computer Science Principles Course and Exam Description. Though this is not a comprehensive list, we suggest it as a point of reference to begin determining what will work best for a student.
How do I prepare to teach this course?
These resources will help:
- The AP Computer Science Principles Course and Exam Description (.pdf/3.61MB) is the core document for this course. It clearly lays out the course content and describes the exam and the AP Program in general. If you only download one thing this year, make this it.
- Course Planning and Pacing Guides demonstrate how various teachers plan and pace their courses.
- Watch these course overview modules for a guided tour of the AP Program and the AP Computer Science Principles assessment.
- Professional development such as one-day workshops and AP Summer Institutes are great for novices and experts alike.
- College Board endorsed providers offering curriculum and professional development for CSP may be able to provide additional support to you and your school. This includes an approved syllabus for your use.
- The AP CSP Teacher Community gives the opportunity to learn from and share with colleagues and create a library of resources.
- Access a diverse selection of supplemental materials, not endorsed by the College Board, to support instruction.
What equipment and resources are needed to teach the course?
Computers with Internet access are required for significant course work that includes, but is not limited to, studying the infrastructure of the Internet and conducting online investigations of computing innovations. In addition, Internet access is required to submit work completed for the through-course performance tasks via the AP Digital Portfolio. Computer system(s) available for students should contain appropriate computing software so that students can develop programs and create other computational artifacts throughout the course.
The following are recommendations for each equipment or resource requirement:
- Browsers: Latest version of Internet Explorer, Chrome, Firefox, Safari, or Edge
- Operating systems: Windows 7, 8.1, 10; Mac OS X; or iOS 9
- Devices: Desktop, Laptop, Tablet, or Mobile
Which textbooks does the College Board recommend?
The College Board does not recommend specific textbooks. However, a list of textbooks appropriate for the course appears on the AP CSP Course Audit site.
If students want to take both AP Computer Science Principles and AP Computer Science A, is there a recommended sequence?
The courses can be taken in any order, or at the same time. The recommended prerequisite for both courses is a first-year high school algebra course such as Algebra I.
Are there any student prerequisites?
The AP Program recommends that students successfully complete a high school algebra course like Algebra I with a strong foundation in basic algebraic concepts dealing with function notation and problem-solving strategies. Students should be able to use a Cartesian (x, y) coordinate system to represent points on a plane. Students do not need to have prior computer science knowledge or experience.
Is this a semester-long or yearlong course?
We recommend that this course be taught over an entire school year. It can be taught on a block schedule.
Can students take AP Computer Science Principles without taking the AP Exam?
Yes. Students can take the course without taking the AP Exam. If students are seeking college credit or placement, be sure to check with the institution's policies to determine if they will grant credit or placement without an AP Exam score.
Questions about the AP Course Audit
What is the AP Course Audit?
The AP Course Audit is an authorization process that provides teachers and administrators with guidelines and requirements for offering AP courses. It also ensures that AP courses across high schools meet the same college-level criteria.
Is the AP Course Audit required?
Yes. Every school wishing to label a course an "AP" course must participate in the AP Course Audit.
What's involved? Who needs to participate, and what do they need to do?
The AP Course Audit requires the online submission of two documents: the AP Course Audit form and the teacher's syllabus. The AP teacher and the school principal or designated administrator submit the AP Course Audit form, acknowledging the curricular and resource requirements. The syllabus, detailing how the AP course requirements will be met, is submitted by the AP teacher for review by college faculty.
Do I have to complete the AP Course Audit process before I start teaching this course?
It is necessary to start the course audit process in order to gain access to the AP Digital Portfolio — a web-based application where teachers create a classroom and confirm students' submission of performance tasks as part of the assessment for this course.
Where can I get help preparing my course syllabus?
The AP CSP Course Audit site provides teachers with the tools to create and submit their syllabus for authorization, including curricular requirements, a syllabus development guide, and four annotated sample syllabi. Teachers can choose to create their own syllabus, adopt and submit a sample syllabus, or work with an endorsed provider and obtain a syllabus ID number to receive course authorization.
Have more questions?
Go to AP Course Audit for more FAQs, resources, and information about the process.
Questions about the Assessment
What does the AP Computer Science Principles assessment consist of?
The assessment has two parts: a through-course assessment (consisting of two performance tasks) that students complete during the school year and the end-of-course AP Exam given in May. Both of these will measure student achievement of the course learning objectives. For the through-course assessment, students will upload digital artifacts and written responses via a web-based digital portal. For more information about the through-course performance tasks, please see the Assessment Overview section of the AP CSP Course and Exam Description (.pdf/3.61MB).
What are the performance tasks?
The through-course assessment includes two AP Computer Science Principles performance tasks. One of the tasks requires students to identify a computing innovation, explore its impact, and create a computational artifact that represents the computing innovation. The other task focuses on the development of a computer program through the collaborative and iterative processes of programming. The tasks can be administered to students in any order. Find out more on the assessment information page.
When and how can I get samples of the performance tasks?
Sample student responses of the performance tasks and scoring information are available on the AP CSP Exam Information page.
How much time do students need to complete the performance tasks?
Teachers are required to provide students a minimum of 8 hours of class time for the Explore performance task and a minimum of 12 hours of class time for the Create performance task. Sufficient time should be provided to students to learn the concepts tested in each performance task and to practice these skills prior to completing and submitting their work on the AP Digital Portfolio for AP scoring purposes.
Is there a specific citation format students must use?
No. While students are required to provide attributions through at least three inline citations in their responses, no specific citation style is required. MLA, APA, or IEEE would be appropriate to use for the works-cited list. Students can denote inline citations and references in any manner, even if the style of inline citations used in responses does not follow an official format (e.g., MLA, APA, IEEE). You can view sample student responses to see examples.
What programming language is recommended for students to use to complete the Create — Applications from Ideas performance task?
Students are allowed to develop any program they choose (e.g., an app, a game, art design, etc.) with their choice of programming language to meet all the criteria in the Create performance task. A list of suggested programming languages that were used when piloting this course can be found in the instruction section of the AP CSP Course and Exam Description. Though this is not a comprehensive list, we suggest it as a point of reference to begin determining what will work best for a student.
Can students go over the word count limit provided in each of the performance tasks?
Students should craft their written responses to remain within the word count limit (per the task directions in the AP CSP Course and Exam Description; the limits are 700 words for the Explore task and 750 words for the Create task). A template will be provided for students to use for each performance task that will allow a small amount of flexibility in case additional words are needed to complete each response. The template will also help ensure students include all the required responses and provide guidance for them to remain within an acceptable word count limit. Students may need to revise their responses to provide the most essential information needed to meet each criterion in the rubrics for each performance task. More information regarding these templates is available on the AP Digital Portfolio site.
Are students allowed to choose programming topics or computing innovations for the performance tasks they submit to the College Board that their teachers have discussed in class or used in practice performance tasks?
During the submission process, students must attest that they are submitting their own work.
For the Explore performance task: If students select a computing innovation that was discussed in class, students must find new sources and submit original responses to avoid fraud and plagiarism and cannot submit any work from practice performance tasks.
For the Create performance task: Students must be able to claim that the program code and the written response they are submitting is their own. Students can use code segments that are not originally developed by them provided they have included appropriate attributions for these code segments.
Furthermore, students should not submit any written responses that were used in practice performance tasks in class. For additional information, please see the FAQ: What should teachers do if they notice a student has neglected to cite their sources?
When will the end-of-course AP Computer Science Principles Exam be administered?
It will be given each year in May. Go to the AP Exam Schedule for the most current exam dates.
How can I prepare students for the exam?
Review the AP CSP Course and Exam Description (.pdf/3.61MB) carefully to understand the curriculum framework as well as the exam design. Provide opportunities throughout the year for your students to practice the learning objectives within the curriculum framework. As an additional resource to the curriculum you are implementing, access to a full practice exam is available by logging in to your AP Course Audit account. The practice exam is often used as a supplemental resource to help students understand the types of questions that may be asked in the AP CSP Exam.
To prepare students for the through-course performance tasks, ensure that they have sufficient learning experiences and practice on the concepts tested in the tasks prior to administering them. Sample responses to the performance tasks with scoring commentary are available.
Online resources like curriculum samples, programming tools, and free online courses (MOOCs) can supplement your AP CSP instruction. These resources have not been reviewed or endorsed by the College Board but are recommendations from your fellow teachers. Visit the AP CSP Classroom Resources page and join the AP CSP Teacher Community to access resources.
What should teachers do if they notice a student has neglected to cite their sources?
After a student uploads their final submission, teachers will be able to review the submission to ensure appropriate acknowledgements of image(s), video, music, written works, and code segment(s) created by someone else and used in the creation of the computational artifact or written responses. If there are attributions missing, teachers will be able to return the submission to the student to add the necessary acknowledgments before submitting to College Board for AP Scoring, rather than reporting this as plagiarism.
Can students complete the performance tasks collaboratively?
When students are ready to complete the Explore performance task for AP scoring purposes, students must complete this task on their own.
When students are ready to complete the Create performance task for AP scoring purposes, students can collaborate in the development of their program. The AP CSP Course and Exam Description provides teachers with examples of acceptable ways for students to collaborate while completing the Create performance task.
Can students work on the performance tasks outside of the classroom?
Students are able to work on the tasks outside of a classroom provided they have been given the required class time as indicated in the performance task directions.
What can a teacher do if a student is absent during the designated class time provided to complete a performance task?
Teachers can accommodate the student to complete the task in the classroom or school environment , ensuring that they have access to tools and resources they need. Some teachers may be able to allow the student to continue working independently during class time, or before and/or after class. Teachers can check their school policy for additional information on providing students with make-up time to complete assignments. Note that students must upload their work and complete their final submissions on the AP Digital Portfolio by April 30 in order to receive an AP Exam score.
If students complete one task in less than the required hours, can they begin working on the other task?
Our class is on a first semester block schedule. Will the process for uploading the performance tasks be available before the first semester concludes?
Yes. Students can begin uploading their work now on the AP Digital Portfolio. Keep in mind that once students have received their AP number in March, students must return to the AP Digital Portfolio in order to complete their submission as final. All final submissions must be completed on or before April 30. Information about submitting can be found on the About the AP Digital Portfolio page. The Student User Guide is also a helpful resource.
Can teachers review student submissions before they are sent to College Board for scoring?
Teachers can review student submissions for the following purposes ONLY:
- Teachers can review the files that student are submitting to ensure the files are correct and not corrupted for each performance task (i.e., students upload correct files for the Explore performance task and correct files for the Create performance task).; and
- Teachers can review students' submissions to ensure they have provided necessary attributions for work that is not originally created or written by the student. Students must attribute work that is not their own through inline citations and references. If a teacher notices student work that does not provide the necessary attributions through citations and references, teachers can inform the students where they believe missing attributions are needed and return the work to the student to add the necessary inline citations and references before submitting it to College Board.
- Once students' submissions have been submitted to College Board through the AP Digital Portfolio, teachers can then provide feedback to students if they are being considered as part of a class grade. Note that classroom grades may differ from the AP score that a student may receive.
How can students take the AP Exam and submit work for the performance tasks if they are not enrolled in the course?
Have more questions?
Questions about the AP Digital Portfolio
What is the AP Digital Portfolio?
The AP Digital Portfolio is a web-based application used to facilitate the process of collecting and transmitting AP Computer Science Principles through-course performance tasks to the AP Reading for scoring. The AP Digital Portfolio contains user roles for teachers, students, and AP Coordinators.
Through the AP Digital Portfolio you can create CSP classes. Information on the AP Digital Portfolio — including how to log in, how to create classrooms, and how to upload and submit performance tasks — is available on the AP Digital Portfolio site.
When will the AP Digital Portfolio be available to teachers?
The AP Digital Portfolio is only available to teachers, students, and Coordinators at schools who are authorized to offer AP Computer Science Principles. Access to the Digital Portfolio is granted after teachers have started the AP Course Audit process.
How do teachers access the AP Digital Portfolio?
Teachers should go to the AP Digital Portfolio and log in using their College Board Professional Account. First time AP Computer Science Principles teachers will receive an access code from the College Board in early September. The AP Digital Portfolio — Teacher User Guide for AP Computer Science Principles provides detailed instruction for teachers using digital portfolio.
How do students access the AP Digital Portfolio?
Students should go to the AP Digital Portfolio and log in using their College Board username and password. Students may have an existing account if they viewed AP scores, or registered for SAT online. Students can request a password reset, or they can create a new account if they do not already have one. The AP Digital Portfolio — Student User Guide for AP Computer Science Principles provides detailed instructions for students using the digital portfolio.
When will the AP Digital Portfolio be available to Coordinators?
Coordinators from schools that offer AP CSP will receive an access code to the AP Digital Portfolio in early 2017.
Coordinators supporting independent study students will be given instructions and access to the AP Digital Portfolio upon request. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you need access.
Visit the Exam Requiring Special Preparation site for information on Coordinator's role with AP CSP.
What is the last day for teachers to access the AP Digital Portfolio?
The last day for teachers to access the AP Digital Portfolio is April 30.
What is the last day for students to access the AP Digital Portfolio?
Students must submit all written performance task assessments as final and enter their AP ID numbers into the Digital Portfolio by April 30. Note: Since April 30th, 2017 is a Sunday, students have until May 1st, 11:59 pm ET to submit performance tasks in the AP Digital Portfolio.
Is there any possibility of an extension beyond April 30?
There is no guarantee of an extension beyond April 30. Teachers should plan their academic calendars allowing for unforeseen circumstances so that students have made final submissions of performance tasks by April 30.
Are students required to use the AP Digital Portfolio in order to take the AP Exam and receive an AP score?
Yes, students are required to enter their information on the AP Digital Portfolio in order to submit their work for both performance tasks and receive an AP score. Their AP ID number entered on the AP Digital Portfolio will link the results of the AP Exam and the scores of the performance tasks. Note that students must upload their work and complete their final submissions on the AP Digital Portfolio by April 30 in order to receive an AP Exam score. Note: Since April 30th, 2017 is a Sunday, students have until May 1st, 11:59 pm ET to submit performance tasks in the AP Digital Portfolio.
What happens if AP Computer Science Principles students are not enrolled in the AP Digital Portfolio?
Students who are not enrolled in the AP Digital Portfolio will not receive an AP score for AP Computer Science Principles because they will not be able to submit through-course performance tasks or take the end-of-course exam in AP Computer Science Principles.
What is an AP ID number and do my students need it to use the AP Digital Portfolio?
An AP ID number is a unique identifier assigned to every AP test-taker in a given administration year and can be found in the AP Student Packs that are delivered to schools in April. AP ID numbers are student specific and not exam specific. If a student is taking multiple AP Exams, they will use the same AP ID number for each exam.
Students must enter an AP ID number into the Digital Portfolio in order for their work to be sent to the College Board. All performance tasks that a student has submitted as final by April 30 will automatically be sent to the College Board for scoring, as long as an AP ID number is associated with the student's digital portfolio account.