A Tulsa charter school is getting national recognition for its efforts to diversify the tech world.
The College Board, which oversees the Advanced Placement Program, announced that KIPP Tulsa’s University Prep High School is one of 1,020 schools nationwide to receive the 2020-21 Female Diversity Award.
The College Board presents the award annually to schools where at least half of the students who take an Advanced Placement computer science exam are female or the exam participation rate of female students was greater than or equal to the school’s overall female enrollment.
The only honoree in Tulsa, this is the second consecutive year that KIPP Tulsa’s University Prep High School has earned the award. Other Oklahoma high schools receiving the accolade include Blanchard, Grove, Norman North and Dove Science Academy’s Oklahoma City campus.
People are also reading…
According to data published by the College Board, female students sat for more AP exams across all subjects than their male and non-identifying classmates nationwide in 2021.
However, they accounted for only one-fourth of the students who took the AP Computer Science A exam and one-third of the students who took the AP Computer Science Principles exam.
By comparison, the student enrollment in the AP computer science classes at KIPP Tulsa’s University Prep is half male, half female.
MaDonna Arnold, a regional STEM instructional coach for KIPP, teaches one of the computer science courses at University Prep High School.
With University Prep set to graduate its first senior class this spring, the faculty had initial conversations with students during their freshman year about building out the computer science program and the potential opportunities it could bring about. Those conversations helped encourage additional students to enroll in computer science classes.
“We purposefully sought them (female students) out and talked to them about the opportunities, the need and the gap there is for women in the computer science community, especially women of color,” Arnold said. “They trusted us.”
Enrollment data from the Oklahoma State Department of Education shows that both KIPP Tulsa sites are minority-majority schools.
Arnold said outreach is underway to encourage younger students at KIPP Tulsa’s middle school to take computer science courses when they get to high school.
“In my personal opinion, the glass ceiling won’t truly be broken until we have women of color that are equally represented in all of the male-dominated fields, and computer science is definitely one of them,” Arnold said.