Curriculum Updates 2017-18


Dear Intrepid CS Principles Teachers,

As part of our ongoing updates to the CS Principles curriculum we will be releasing updates to the AP Create PT Prep unit today (Wednesday December 13th) around 3:30pm PST.

Summary: The unit - called “Create PT Prep” - can be assigned to your class just like any other unit in the course. It includes three lessons that guide you and students through reviewing, preparing for, and doing the AP Create Performance Task. Here’s a quick summary of what you can expect to find.

  • Entire unit now aligned with 2018 Create PT Scoring Guidelines
  • Annotated Create PT sample submissions with commentary to help you understand the details of the 2018 Create PT Scoring Guidelines.
  • A Create PT Survival Guide with activities to help both you and your students understand the elements of the task. This includes:
    • Choosing a good algorithm
    • Choosing a good abstraction
    • Brainstorming good project ideas
    • Narrowing down project ideas
    • Planning guides to help you pace your work
    • Templates, commentary, and checklists for each component of the task
    • Verified teachers will have access to an “answer key” for the survival guide that contains exemplar solutions to each activity found in the guide.
  • Updated lesson plans that:
    • Guide you through reviewing the task and sample submissions
    • Show how implement activities in the survival guide.
    • Review essential info before starting the task.

We hope this updated unit proves useful in your classrooms. If you have any clarifying questions please feel free to ask us here and we’ll be happy to help!


This survival guide is very helpful. Is the recommendation that we go through this survival guide and all of the activities in there as a class, before they start the real Create PT?
Our librarian is very helpful with research, I was thinking of having her walk us through the survival guide, but wanted to check that we are allowed to do this together.
I guess it would be OK as long as they didn’t research what the computing innovation they are going to use for the real Create task?


The CreatePT does not require any research. The Explore PT does. There is a survival guide for that too. I think it would be okay to go over the survival guide as a class and have your librarian go over general research techniques. I would stay away from doing the activities as a class but would guide them through the pacing so that they have enough time to do the write up and video.


@reillys I recommend you look at the recently updated Create and Explore PT prep units to understand how to use the survival guides and other resources we’ve made. They’re just additional units of the course, just like Units 1, 2, and 3.

CS Principles Course Page from which you can see all units in the course, including the two below
Create PT Prep Unit direct link
Explore PT Prep Unit direct link

Whether with your librarian or without, we’ve designed the guides themselves so that you and your class can go through them together. The activities aren’t part of the actual Performance Tasks but rather are designed to help students understand some of the nuances of the tasks when they actually go to complete them. We’ve written detailed lesson plans suggesting how to complete these activities.

Using a librarian to go through these lessons or to help learn general research skills for the task would be entirely appropriate, but you or your librarian can’t actually provide articles or topics for students to choose. For more specific directions I’d refer to page 75 and on of the Course and Exam Description which gives detailed directions about what you are and aren’t allowed to do as a teacher.

Let us know if you have more questions!


I meant Explore, sorry


I hear you. These are all very important points you made. I think, for my students, though, most of them take Statistics and/or AP Statistics course(s) and I felt very ok/comfortable about cutting the data analysis piece. Majority of them knew more than I did. I do agree with you that data analysis is very useful. Each teacher should assess what the students need/can learn in the limited time we have, etc.

I also think that Unit 4 is a very important. We had some great discussions and activities about Big Data at the end of Unit 2. I actually think it should be IN Unit 2, and not a separate unit. I am going from Unit 3 to Unit 5 to continue the programming units (get it out of the way early on), and then going back to Unit 4.

Thanks for your input!


I’m doing the same wrt unit 3 and unit 5, and having the students do the Create task before Christmas. It worked for the most part, but some students did not get the Create task finished and now have come back after the break with no recollection of computer programming, so there’s that! I think it is still better (for us) than separating the programming sections, and it does help to get the CT done early. I have a mix of sophomores,juniors and seniors - 4 classes of about 28, so it’s difficult to get a good balance to keep everyone on the job.
We have started unit 1, and will continue with 2 and 4.
May as well try and see what ordering works out best for us! Definitely appreciate the content!


@jbaik and @tkane there was a time when the course actually was structured much as you describe. Unit 3 and 5 were combined in one large unit near the end of the course and Unit 1, Unit 2 Chapter 1 (everything but data) and Unit 4 all came before it. We assumed it made more sense to group similar content.

Feedback on that version of the curriculum was that the long stretches of similar material, in particular programming, started to wear students down. It also meant students ended up waiting a long time to program which was frustrating for some students. This is in part because one of the major stakes in the ground for this curriculum is that we didn’t want to start the course with a programming unit. Responding to this feedback led to the current version of the curriculum.

That said, you should of course use the materials however makes sense to you and your classroom. If we start to see evidence that a different order than the current one is clearly better, especially for new teachers, we’ll likely switch it at that point as well. For example this year we began recommending that classrooms complete the Explore PT following Unit 4 rather than waiting for the end of the course. Feedback like this is really useful in pointing us in the right direction.

Good luck to you both and the rest of the CSP teachers out there and thanks for taking a moment to share your experiences.


Dear Intrepid CS Principles Teachers,

As part of our ongoing updates to the CS Principles curriculum we will be releasing updates to Unit 5 (and a small addition to the Create PT unit) this evening (Friday January 19th) around 3:30pm PST.

As with previous updates we’ve designed these to be easy to integrate in your classroom and have minimal time impact on the course. We believe they have strengthened Unit 5 as whole and will better prepare your students to complete the updated AP Create 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 Create PT in response to changes the College Board made to the AP Performance Task Scoring Guidelines for the ‘17-’18 school year.

  • Unit 5 got some AP-style questions to prepare kids for the Create PT, better explanation of algorithms, refreshed Color Sleuth activity in Lesson 10, and recommend classrooms skip Lesson 18.
  • AP Prep Unit has an updated Create PT Exemplar so that students have at least one example where they can touch the code.

Unit 5 Updates

  • Lesson 3 - Building an App: Multi-Screen App
  • Added AP-style question - “Describe Your Process”
  • Lesson 5 - Lesson 5: Building an App: Clicker Game
  • Added AP-style question - “Choosing an Abstraction”
  • Lesson 7 - “If” Statements Unplugged
  • Added Algorithms Explanation level
  • Lesson 9 “if-else-if” and Conditional Logic
  • Added AP-style question - “Score the Response”
  • Lesson 10 - Building an App: Color Sleuth
  • Added 3 AP-style questions - “Algorithms and Abstraction”
  • Added Color Sleuth Rubric
  • Added resource explaining connections between this lesson and the Create PT
  • Lesson 18 - Practice PT - Create Your Own App
  • Marked for deprecation. We no longer recommend students complete this activity and instead suggest they move on to the Create PT Prep unit.
  • We’ve updated the “Grumpy Cat” exemplar project from this lesson and moved it to the Create PT prep unit.
  • Reminder About When to Start the Create PT: In Unit 5 Lesson 10 we’ve added additional reminders that students should be ready to begin the Create PT as early as the conclusion of this lesson. Students may of course continue through the entirety of the unit and begin the project afterwards. This recommendation also appears on pages 32-33 of the CSP Curriculum Guide and hopefully will be helpful for those of you feeling crunched for time.

This diagram shows the specific levels in Unit 5 Chapter 1 that have been updated.

AP Create PT Prep Unit Updates

  • Lesson 1 - Review the Task
  • Added updated “Grumpy Cat” Exemplar Create PT project to this lesson. Students and teachers both have access to the write up and code. This was created since College Board exemplars don’t include the full programs being submitted.
  • Lesson 2 - Make a Plan
  • Added quick reminder about the new “Grumpy Cat” exemplar



I am currently planning for a pilot of AP CSP in the 18/19 academic year.

I was wondering if it is still suggested on those short on time to cut Lessons 11-14 in Unit 2: Chapter 2? I was also wondering if perhaps these lessons may be replaced by other lessons or if they will be removed altogether.

I am creating a pacing guide to hand out to students who have signed up for the course and would like it to be as accurate as possible.

I will as suggested be teaching Units 1,2 and 4 in Semester 1 followed by the Explore PT at the end of semester 1 or start of Semester 2. Then teaching Units 3 and 5 followed by the Create PT (at the end of Unit 5 Lesson 10).

Any advice or ideas appreciated.




Hey @glenn.crane thanks for writing in.

The short answer is that we’re currently in the process of determining our recommendations for Unit 2 going into the coming school year. This past year the fact that those lessons are so early in the curriculum led to us making a fairly hasty recommendation based on feedback from experienced teachers. This year we’d like a more comprehensive solution and are currently working on developing one.

As always when we know more we’ll be sharing our updates here. Hope that helps a little bit!



I was looking for this answer key but was not able to find it. Could you provide a link or help me find where to look? Thank you.


@paul.schonfeld you should be able to find it from the associated lesson plan, in this case here.



I am refreshing my memory and going through some of the material in the course now, to make sure I refresh any concepts I have not taught in a while. While doing this I have noticed that some of the Unit 2 lessons do not have an answer key in them. If this due to the updating of the curriculum? Or for certain questions is there no suggested answers?

An example would be Unit 2 Lesson 1 2-3.




@glenn.crane I am fairly certain those levels never had answers provided for them. We certainly wouldn’t have removed them as part of cleaning up the unit. I’ve marked your comment that they’re missing so that when we go back through this unit it to clean it up we can add them in.