Collaborative Research: CAFECS: Developing Equitable Computer Science Pathways from High School to College

(CS4ALL Pathways)

October 2021


Steven McGee

The Learning Partnership

Lucia Dettori

DePaul University

Dorris Espiritu

Wright College

Andrew Rasmussen

Chicago Public Schools

In June 2020, more than fourteen thousand students in Chicago Public Schools (CPS) graduated with one year of high school computer science credit in fulfillment of CPS? recent computer science graduation requirement. This was the culmination of over a decade of work by the Chicago Alliance For Equity in Computer Science (CAFÉCS) to implement the Exploring Computer Science (ECS) curriculum and accompanying teacher professional development program district-wide. The ECS class supports equivalent assessment outcomes regardless of students? race/ethnicity and gender and equivalently increases interest in pursuing additional computer science coursework, including Advanced Placement courses. This project builds upon this work by expanding early college credit computer science courses in CPS and engaging students in activities at local universities to recruit and inspire them through computer science pathways. With a focus on students of color and first-generation college students, the project is providing extensive mentoring and preparation as students transition through their high school, community college, and four-year institution computer science pathways. 

Despite the evidence of the efficacy of this high-school computer-science pathway towards early college credit, only about a quarter of CPS high schools offer AP computer science and less than 10% of schools offer computer science dual credit courses. In addition, there is a paucity of research on the mechanisms by which early college credit courses inspire interest and provide preparation for college success in computer science majors. With a specific focus on students of color, this project focuses on the expansion of high-school early college credit opportunities in CPS and supporting students’ success along computer science pathways in community colleges. The project aims to understand the characteristics of ECS implementation that enable high schools to successfully introduce early college credit opportunities, such as AP and dual-credit classes and the extent to which existing AP computer science professional development programs adequately prepare non-endorsed teachers to achieve student outcomes that are equivalent to those achieved by teachers who are endorsed in computer science. The project is also exploring the extent to which early college computer science credit opportunities increase interest in the field leading to enrollment in courses along computer science pathways and potential mechanisms in which community colleges can reduce barriers and increase success for students on computing pathways.

Grant IDs


McGee, S., Dettori, L., Espiritu, D., & Rasmussen, A.  (2022). Collaborative Research: CAFECS: Developing Equitable Computer Science Pathways from High School to College [Grant].