Collaborative Research: Chicago Alliance For Equity in Computer Science (CAFÉCS)


October 2017


Steven McGee

The Learning Partnership

Lucia Dettori

DePaul University

Ronald Greenberg

Loyola University Chicago

George Thiruvathukal

Loyola University Chicago

Dale Reed

University of Illinois Chicago

DePaul University, in collaboration with The Learning Partnership, Loyola University of Chicago, Chicago Public Schools (CPS), and the University of Illinois at Chicago, proposes a researcher practitioner partnership – the Chicago Alliance For Equity in Computer Science (CAFECS)- with the aim of ensuring that all CPS students have access to inclusive, high-quality, introductory computer science education in high school. CPS, the third largest school district in the nation, requires all students starting high school in Fall 2017 or later to complete a computer science (CS) course. CAFECS will ensure that CPS provides sufficient support to teachers and holds all schools accountable for offering high-quality CS across the entire district. CAFECS will empower at least 25,000 Chicago teens with the foundational practices of computer science.

CAFECS stems from a well-established partnership between university CS and educational research faculty, along with CPS teachers and administrators. The partnership began forming in Chicago a decade ago around the common goal of providing all CPS high school students access to meaningful and engaging computer science instruction. CAFECS is currently reaching a large and diverse population through the extensively-tested Exploring Computer Science (ECS) curriculum and professional development program, with its guided-inquiry approach and a focus on engaging students through multiple modes of learning and culturally sensitive content. Over 200 teachers have completed ECS professional development delivered by CAFECS. In the 2016-2017 school year, approximately 7,000 students have completed ECS in 63 high schools (of the 106 district-run high schools). The student population in these ECS courses spans the largest population categories long underrepresented in computing includes 44% females, 38% African-American, and 47% Hispanic, which is consistent with the district-wide demographics. Building on this initial success, CPS must continue to develop mechanisms for providing professional development for teachers and principals at scale in order to ensure that all schools offer a high quality CS course to all CPS students. The project seeks to build upon established relationships between the university partners and CPS so that they will continue to serve the community beyond the scope of the project.

Grant IDs

Related Publications


McGee, S., Dettori, L., Reed, D., Greenberg, R., & Thiruvathukal, G. (2017). Collaborative Research: Chicago Alliance for Equity in Computer Science [Grant].