Collaborative Research: RAPID: Mitigating the Impact of Forced Remote Learning of ECS Due to COVID-19


July 2020


Steven McGee

The Learning Partnership

Andrew Rasmussen

Chicago Public Schools

The Learning Partnership, in collaboration with the Chicago Public Schools (CPS), and Education Development Center (EDC), will conduct research and develop teacher support programs that will mitigate the impact that the global COVID pandemic is having on high school computer science students in CPS. There are significant concerns that the variability in implementation of remote learning policies in response to COVID-19 school closures could exacerbate educational inequities in access and quality of experience for students taking Exploring Computer Science (ECS). These concerns are particularly acute in CPS where computer science is a graduation requirement and ECS is the primary course that students take to fulfill the requirement. Inequalities in access and implementation of computer science in CPS can have consequences for students’ high school graduation. In order to develop effective teaching materials for the 2020-2021 academic year, the project team will study the overall impact of remote learning by comparing outcomes for the 2019-20 implementation of ECS in CPS relative to the previous three years of ECS implementation as well as whether inequities have emerged within CPS by examining differences in school plans for remote learning, student access to technology, participation in remote learning experiences by race and ethnicity and whether those differences correlate with differences in learning outcomes.

This project extends the work of the Chicago Alliance for Equity in Computer Science (CAFECS), a long-standing partnership between university computer science faculty, educational researchers, and CPS teachers and administrators, to ensure that all CPS high school students engage in high quality, engaging computer science education. CAFECS will develop strategies develop strategies on how to emulate effective high-touch teacher facilitation strategies online from their experience with face-to-face classrooms. The project will be guided by three research questions: (1) How can we design online professional development to support ECS teachers’ transition to teach the course fully or partially online during the 2020-21 school year? (2) How can the CAFÉCS coaching model be adapted to support teachers in moving ECS to a remote learning format and to provide remote coaching when school access is restricted? (3) What are the characteristics of remote learning policies that foster student engagement and best support student online collaboration? The teacher professional development model will be guided by the Desimone and Garet framework to provide a structure for drawing conclusions about the contribution of the professional development in mitigating the impact COVID-19 school building closures have on student outcomes. The results of this research will have a direct impact on hundreds of CPS teachers and, ultimately, thousands of CPS high school students. The results will significantly contribute to the knowledge base of how to effectively teach computer science for underserved students in computer science and how schools can mitigate the impacts of COVID-19.


McGee, S. & Rasmussen A. (2020). Collaborative Research: RAPID: Mitigating the Impact of Forced Remote Learning of ECS Due to COVID-19 [Grant].