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McCann Recognized for Female Student Participation in AP Computer Science
By Jack Guerino, iBerkshires Staff
02:24AM / Monday, April 22, 2019
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NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — McCann Technical School has earned a First College Board AP Computer Science Female Diversity Award.
 
The school was notified of the award last month it was being recognized for the high female representation in AP Computer Science Courses.
 
"We really weren't expecting this. It just happened organically that we had the right female enrollment and female success in that program," Principal Justin Kratz said on Thursday. "So we're very pleased to hear about it ... and we are very proud."
 
Eligible schools must have either 50 percent or higher female representation in one of the two AP computer science courses or a percentage of the female computer science students that meet or exceed that of the schools female population. 
 
"By inviting many more young women to advanced computer science classrooms, McCann
Tech has taken a significant step toward preparing all students for the widest range of 21st-century opportunities," said Trevor Packer, College Board senior vice president of the AP Program in the state announcing the award. "We hope this inspires many other high schools to engage more female students in AP Computer Science and prepare them to drive innovation."
 
Only 490 schools out some 18,000 worldwide earned the award for AP Computer Science Principles. Kratz said he didn't realize how ahead of the curve McCann was. 
 
"That is the culture of our building and we really push all of our students to explore whatever interests they have," he said. "We want to give our students as many opportunities to find out what they're most interested in and where their passions lie.
 
AP Computer Science Principles has promoted the growth of AP computer science in high
schools. Participation had increased 135 percent since 2016 and the number of female, rural, and underrepresented minority students taking AP computer science exams has more than doubled in that period.
 
The goal is to encourage gender-parity science, technology, engineering and math and create a pathway to high-paying jobs, innovation and competition. The AP Board cites UNESCO's Institute of Statistics data that show less than 30 percent of the world's researchers are women; in North America and Western Europe, it's just 32 percent. Women are more likely to pursue computer science if they're given the opportunity to explore it in high school, according to research.
 
Kratz said the recognition gives the school more clout and shows incoming students that McCann encourages students to study whatever they want.  
 
"It breaks down those barriers because these careers are not just for men," he said. "We have women in these programs, and they've done really well. So I think it helps us with our future enrollment...We don't pigeonhole any of our kids into certain areas."
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