Williamston Township celebrates AP Computer Science Female Diversity Award, commits to STEM inclusivity

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In Williamston Township, the recognition of the efforts to earn the Advanced Placement (AP) Computer Science Female Diversity Award are highlighted on a plaque in the boardroom of the middle school. 

This past week, the Williamston Board of Education recognized the award received from 2023. The award was installed in Williamston Middle School by Superintendent Adam Spina and Rob Dexter, with the 2019 engraving of the same award.

The award was given through the class Advanced Placement Computer Science Principles, which is an advanced placement program that allows high school students to experience and achieve college-level studies while still in high school. 

The school also was awarded with AP College Board Academic Honor Roll, supported with the scores that students achieved on AP level tests a couple months prior. 

Because of the previous gender gap in students that move on to study STEM related fields at the university level, the district decided that it was a good idea to start learning about this at an early age. 

“One of our goals was to make sure that we were engaging female students,” said Superintendent Adam Spina. “Encouraging them to pursue those courses as they were so inclined by school.”

Only 1,127 schools were awarded this for the 2022-2023 school year according to Quest. This award meant a lot to the school because it showed the efforts that the board and students have made to be recognized nationally. 

“Research shows that female students who take AP computer science are more likely to major in computer science in college compared with matched peers,” according to AP Central.

The more students that take these courses, the more likely that female students will want to participate as well according to AP Central. This is why the school decided it was a good idea to add more classes. 

“We started a STEM lab which is a required course for all of our students in kindergarten through fifth grade,” Spina said. “The idea was by starting young and integrating STEM related content and application opportunities for students at a young age we would hook more female students.”

They have noticed an increase in the number of female students who are engaged in the course, and hope that this trend will continue the same way it has since it was first awarded in 2019, and the initiative started in 2017. 

“In the AP Computer Science A course, students focus on computing skills related to Java programming, which cultivates their understanding of coding through analyzing, writing and testing code,” according to the press release by the Michigan government. 

This course was added to the curriculum to ensure that students had the opportunity to take these types of courses. 

 “It’s a good reminder to us that the hard work that’s taking place teaching kids and the goals that we had in 2015/16 when we were starting to put this idea together, that we are making progress, and this isn’t the only goal of the program,” Spina said. 

The efforts put together by staff, such as teachers, students, and parents were all collective to make this a possible achievement, and it is only one goal on a long list of things that the school wants to accomplish down the line. 

The school is making sure that the award is recognized by sending it out in the biweekly community newsletters, putting it on their website, and the frame that is in their board room. 

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