Curriculum Updates 2017-18


A natural extension to compression introduced in Unit 2 is encryption. I am considering making a PT on that topic to conclude Unit 2. Any thoughts???_

Unit 4 Lessons 5, 6 and 7 cover encryption. So I suggest that the PT you have in mind be designed to compliment these upcoming lessons.


My students can access Unit 3, however, I cannot view their progress. Any ideas?


This happened to me as well. I logged out and logged back in and I could see their progress. Hope this works for you.


Any news on the schedule of the Unit 4 updates?
I’m getting close to the end of Unit 3, and wish to start planning for Unit 4.
If I have an idea as to when the Unit 4 updates are coming and what they might be, then I might be better able to plan and schedule the finishing of Unit 3. I might consider doing some other activities to wait for the Unit 4 updates.

The Unit 3 updates were very good.
So, if possible, I would like to hold-off on doing Unit 4 until the updates are in place.

Thank you.


This isn’t actually an answer, but a suggestion on what “holding off” looks like: Given that students can code in whatever language they want, I’m planning to spend some time looking at a variety of different languagues/coding environments so they can start to make decisions about what they want to do. A bunch of my students are already familiar with Scratch, some wanted to do some physical coding (robots, etc).

My intent is that they will 1) have more options/spark ideas and 2) see the similarities in coding to further their “enduring understanding”. (We’ll see how it works!)


Hey @jpfasano thanks for checking in. Baker and I have been heads down for a few days working on these updates. I can’t say exactly when they’ll be live. It’s probably more than a week and less than a month at this point :slight_smile: . I can, however, give you a sense of what we’re working on and hopefully that will help you and other teachers make some decisions.

Our current pass of work is primarily designed to improve the alignment between our course and the Performance Tasks. It might be more accurate to call it a “performance task alignment” than a true curriculum update. In any event, when we went to go update Unit 4 we realized that the unit is serving multiple roles. Many of the lessons are important for understanding key computer science concepts covered on the CSP framework but don’t themselves align closely with the performance tasks. The encryption lessons, for example, are strong lessons that cover a lot of important concepts but aren’t really well suited for Explore PT prep. Other lessons like the rapid research lessons are probably good places to practice both the research and writing skills necessary for the Explore PT.

As a result here’s what you’re likely to see when we publish updates

  • Revised Explore PT Lessons in the AP Prep Unit: A lot of the skills for the Explore PT really didn’t have a home in the core curriculum. For example, identifying a computing innovation by the College Board’s standards, or understanding the new Scoring Guidelines, aren’t really core CS content. As such we’re going to be putting them in 2-3 revised lessons in that unit. You can look forward to more robust and updated supports there to help you and your students better understand the task.
  • Revised Rapid Research Lessons: At least right now we’re talking about leaving a lot of Unit 4 alone. Where we would make changes would likely be the Rapid Research lessons. We want to make sure we’re emphasizing the research / citation skills students need for the PT and then previewing the exact prompts that they’re going to see on the Explore PT. We’d plan on splitting those prompts or parts of them across those lessons.
  • Possibly Cleaning Up Lessons 8/9: Right now it feels weird that Lesson 8 and 9 are both essentially “projects” and then right after that we’ll be asking students to go into the Explore PT which is another project. This is a fuzzier idea at this point but this is at least a question we’ve identified and one we’re going to try to look into more before hitting Publish.
  • Introduce the Explore PT in Lesson 1: Much like in Unit 3, we’re going to add a short introduction to the PT at the beginning of the Unit.

In many ways these changes will likely be pretty similar to what we did in Unit 3. We’ll introduce the PT briefly at the beginning of the unit, beef up the supports for the PT at the end, and add some scoped opportunities to practice key skills throughout the unit. Much like in Unit 3 I wouldn’t think of this as now being an “Explore PT Unit”, but it should be more clear how and when you’re practicing key skills. The one key difference is that the “project” will end up being split across rapid research lessons or simply living in the AP Prep unit. As I mentioned, a couple of those decisions are still up in the air.

I hope that’s helpful. It’s possible some of the details of this plan will change and like I said we don’t have an exact deadline on when we hope to publish, but as we get more clarity we’ll be sure to check back in here.


I am going to finish Unit 2 Chapter 1, then have my students do a mock Explore Task before right after Thanksgiving. I will pick up Chapter 2 of Unit 2 when I cover Unit 4. My students are getting antsy about coding, so after the mock Explore, I am going give them their class time for the “real” explore. I’ll pick up Unit 3 after that.


@gtwrobel thanks for the info. The planned updates will be valuable.

What do you and others, think about doing a few lessons in Unit 5 to delay starting Unit 4 while waiting for the Unit 4 updates to be complete?

Are there any currently planned updates to Unit 5?

Thank you.


Hey @jpfasano glad to hear they’ll be useful. We’re targeting either Friday this week or early next week to publish them so the good news is you’ll have them on the early end of that timeline I originally quoted you.

We haven’t yet looked at Unit 5 but we’ll be turning our attention to it immediately following Unit 4 updates. You can likely expect a “Create PT alignment” similar to what we did in Unit 3.

I think either doing a couple lessons of Unit 5 or possibly starting the three encryption lessons in Unit 4 (which I mentioned have limited direct ties to the Explore PT) would both be fine. I expect we’ll be making small tweaks to Lessons 1-4 in Unit 4. Hopefully that helps you make a decision.


So is Unit 4 good to go or are we still on hold? Just want to make sure before I start planning!


We’re doing our final cleanup of the resources now and they should be launching early next week. Hold tight for just a couple more days and you’ll have a refreshed Unit 4 AND Explore PT prep materials!


Dear Intrepid CS Principles Teachers,

As part of our ongoing updates to the CS Principles curriculum we will be releasing updates to Unit 4 and the Explore PT unit this evening (Tuesday November 21st) around 3:30pm PST.

These updates should be easy to integrate in your classroom and have minimal time impact on the course. We believe they have strengthened Unit 4 as whole and will better prepare your students to complete the updated AP Explore Performance Task.

We have summarized the updates and changes below. If you have any clarifying questions please ask them here and we’ll be happy to help!

What’s New?

Summary: Our primary goal was to improve connections to the AP Explore PT in response to changes the College Board made to the AP Performance Task Scoring Guidelines for the ‘17-’18 school year.

  • Unit 4 got some targeted changes to rapid research activities and scoring rubrics.
  • AP Prep Unit now split into two separate Explore and Create prep units
  • New Unit: AP CSP Explore contains Explore PT activities (including the new Explore PT survival guide)

Summary of Unit 4 Changes

The image below shows lessons that were updated in blue, levels that were updated or added in green, and lessons we recommend you consider skipping in orange

  • Lesson 1: Added brief introduction to the AP Explore PT
  • Lesson 2: Updated Rapid Research activity to use prompts and skills that more closely mirror the updated Explore PT
  • Lesson 3 - 4: Added a Check for Understanding question to each lesson that previews components of the Explore PT. These levels are marked as “(new)” and appear at the end of the lesson.
  • Lesson 8: Updated Rapid Research activity to use prompts and skills that more closely mirror the updated Explore PT. More robust supports added so this lesson could serve as an end to the unit in some classrooms.
  • Lesson 9: Added recommendation that classrooms consider skipping this activity if students are ready to move on to complete the Explore PT.

(New) Explore PT Prep Unit

  • New Separate Units for Explore PT and Create PT prep. You will see a change in the course pull down menu for units you can assign to students. There are now two units called “Explore PT Prep” and “Create PT Prep” with specific activities to gear up for and do the Performance Tasks.
  • New resources in updated Explore PT Lessons: All lesson plans in the new Explore unit have been updated with new activities and resources to match the updated task and scoring guidelines. We’re excited about the annotated exemplars and Explore PT Survival Guide [link] we created. See details below.

Unit 4 Detailed Description of

Lesson 1 - What is Big Data?

  • Wrap Up: 10 minute introduction to the Explore PT added to the wrap-up

Lesson 2 - Rapid Research Data Innovations

  • Activity Guide: Prompts updated to more closely Explore PT language and prompts, in particular the distinction between the “purpose”, “function”, and “beneficial effect” of an innovation.
  • Lesson Plan: Teacher-facing commentary added to clearly communicate relationship between this project and the Explore PT

Lesson 3 - Identifying People with Data

  • Level 2: (new) AP Practice Response - Identify the Data Concern

Lesson 4 - The Cost of Free

  • Level 3: (new) AP Practice Response - Justify the Score

Lesson 8 - Rapid Research Cybercrime

  • Activity Guide: Prompts updated to more closely Explore PT language and prompts, in particular “data storage, privacy, or security concerns”. We also added a rubric to the activity guide.
  • One-pager template: Activity shifted to use the “one-pager” style in Lesson 2. These lessons now are essentially identical in format.
  • Lesson Plan: Teacher-facing commentary added to clearly communicate relationship between this project and the Explore PT

Lesson 9 - Practice PT - Big Data and Cybersecurity Dilemmas

  • Recommendation to Skip: Given the improvements to Lessons 4 and 8 and feedback about the relative length of the course, we’ve added teacher commentary suggesting teachers consider skipping this lesson if they feel their students are prepared to begin working through the Explore PT Unit. The lesson will remain in the curriculum and is otherwise unchanged.

Explore PT Prep Detailed Description of Changes

When the changes launch the current AP Prep unit will be divided into separate units for the Explore and Create PTs. The numbers below refer to the lesson numbering in the currently published version of the unit.

Lesson 1 - Explore PT Prep - Reviewing the Task

  • Annotated Explore PT samples: With three of the examples provided by the College Board we’ve created side-by-side views to show a student response, scoring guidelines and official scoring commentary, as well as commentary all in one place.
  • (optional) - Tech Setup: Contains links to AP Digital Portfolio and other tech tools that are helpful for doing the Performance Task (both Explore and Create).

Lesson 2 Explore PT Prep - Make a Plan

  • Explore PT Survival Guide: Students are provided a detailed guide that walks them through the nuances of the task, including:
  • Picking a good innovation
  • The difference between a data concern and a harmful effect
  • Research tips
  • Checklists for each prompt of the task

Lesson 3 Explore PT Prep - Complete the Task

  • Tie up a few loose ends, understand rules about plagiarism and complete the task.
  • Optional “Evaluating Sources” activity and resources


I am using the current curriculum, however, since this is the first year this course is being offered in our school, it is NOT being offered as an AP course. How do I implement the curriculum updates being issued for Unit 4? I am currently in Unit 2 - Lesson 9. My plan was to complete lessons 10 - 14 and lesson 15 as an end of unit project. I will then be moving to Unit 4. It makes sense to me to continue the lessons involving data. After this I plan to go to Unit 3 and then Unit 5.

This is my first year teaching this course and using this curriculum. I did not have the opportunity this summer to attend the weeklong workshop.

Am I on the right track? Any recommendations/suggestions would be greatly appreciated!


Hi cdeltufo,

Your plan sounds fine. I’ve actually heard other CSP teachers planning on teaching the curriculum in the same sequence you mentioned since they do have that certain flow and cohesiveness. The curriculum used to be in that order but it was broken up since some students felt the programming stretch (Units 3 and 5 all one big unit) was too long. If you don’t think that will be an issue, then I think the sequence you have planned will be great for your students.



@cdeltufo to address your specific question of how to implement the updates to Unit 4, I wanted to make sure you knew all the materials we’ve added are already live in the curriculum and you don’t need to do any additional work to use them. Typically these improvements are broadly useful and you’ll benefit from these changes even if you’re not specifically preparing students for the AP test this year. You can of course decide whether or not to use resources that explicitly reference the performance tasks, and we’ve tried to make it more clear when resources or activities are intended as performance task prep.

Hope that helps and thanks for reaching out!


The new info for the Explore PT is all about Create…. Maybe the wrong doc was loaded? See this link…


CANCEL THAT… Somehow I went to the old unit instead of the great new Unit 6… It is fantastic – thank you so much!!!


Glad to hear it @crowe!


I feel like I (and my students) need more help in preparing acceptable references. They are using websites, and sometimes the date of creation of that page is not available.
What constitutes an acceptably formatted reference?


Hey @reillys the College Board has not released a specific format that they recommend. If you check out the Explore PT Survival Guide we made and which is featured in Lesson 2 of the updated Explore PT Prep Unit we do suggest a format on page 12.

The College Board has 5 exemplar Explore PTs if you scroll down on All but example E earned the point for their citations though you’ll note they use very different styles.

Hope this helps!