Port Arthur ISD teacher honored with College Board AP award

A Port Arthur teacher has been honored for advancements made in expanding girls’ access in computer science courses.

Memorial High School Career and Technical Education computer science instructor Shalequa Landry on Friday received the College Board Advanced Placement Computer Science Female Diversity Award “for achieving high female representation in Advanced Placement Computer Science Principles,” according to a news release.

Landry and Memorial High School were one of just 832 institutions across the nation recognized for achieving 50% or higher female representation in Advanced Placement Computer Science Principles or a percentage of the female computer science exam takers meeting or exceeding that of the school’s female population.

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“Computer science is the source code of our economy and so much of our daily lives,” said College Board Head of the Advanced Placement Program Trevor Packer in the release. “In the five years since we began the (Advanced Placement) Computer Science Female Diversity Award, it’s been heartening to see schools like Memorial and the (Career and Technical Education) campus welcome so many more women into this vital field.”

Last year, just over 44,800 women took the computer science principles exam — more than three times the number who took the exam when the program was first offered in 2017.

“We’re thrilled to congratulate our minority and female (Advanced Placement) computer science students and their dynamic teacher for taking this giant step toward gender parity in computer science education,” said district Media and Communications Specialist Adrienne Lott in the release. “We’re honored that our school earned this distinction and look forward to seeing these young women and others pursue and achieve success in computer science education and careers.”

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Women represent just 24% of the 5 million people in computing occupations, according to the release.

Landry herself is a product of Port Arthur ISD, graduating from Abraham Lincoln High School in 1992.

“This is a full circle moment as an educator who is giving back to her hometown community,” Lott said.

The release said that “providing female students with access to computer science courses is critical to ensuring gender parity in the industry’s high-paying jobs and to driving innovation, creativity and representation.”

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According to College Board research about Advanced Placement Computer Science Principles, female students who take the course in high school are more than five times as likely to major in computer science in college, compared to female students of similar backgrounds and academic preparation who did not take the course.

“Overall, female students remain underrepresented in our high school computer science classes, accounting for just 33% of (Advanced Placement) Computer Science Principles participants and 25% of (Advanced Placement) Computer Science A participants,” the release said. “Currently, 51% of the nation’s high schools teach foundational computer science. The 1,105 schools that receive this year’s Computer Science Female Diversity Award serve as inspirations and models for all US high schools.”

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