CAFÉCS: Supporting quality CS access 4 all Chicago students

May 2018


Steven McGee

The Learning Partnership

Dr. Lucia Dettori

DePaul University

Dr. Ronald I. Greenberg

Loyola University Chicago

Dr. Andrew Rasmussen

Chicago Public Schools

Dr. Dale F. Reed

University of Illinois Chicago

Don Yanek

Chicago Public Schools

A decade ago, a handful of Chicago Public Schools (CPS) computer science (CS) teachers had a dream that all CPS students should have access to high-quality CS education. At the time, CS was limited to career and technical education or high-achieving students. This small group of teachers learned about Exploring Computer Science (ECS), developed by Joanna Goode and Gail Chapman. At the core of ECS is a set of equitable teaching strategies for engaging all students in inquiry about important CS concepts. The CPS teachers partnered with their administration, CS faculty at DePaul, Loyola, and UIC, and education researchers at The Learning Partnership to secure initial NSF funding for professional development. Close to 300 CPS teachers have participated; half are women and 40% are Hispanic or African American. Key to sustainability is that CPS teachers lead the professional development. This initial success enabled CPS to enact a CS graduation requirement for the high school class of 2020. Currently, three-fourths of CPS high schools offer ECS annually to 13,000 students, who reflect the diverse demographics of CPS. By 2019, every high school will offer ECS to 20,000 students annually. With funding from NSF, the Chicago Alliance for Equity in Computer Science (CAFÉCS) researcher-practitioner partnership was formalized to support the district in using evidence to shape teacher professional learning and enact accountability policies that emphasize equity for all students. CAFÉCS research has shown that ECS professional development adequately prepares teachers in fostering student success in the course, developing computational thinking, and increasing participation in and attitudes towards CS.

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Suggested Citation

Steven McGee, Lucia Dettori, Ronald Greenberg, Andrew Rasmussen, Dale Reed, and Don Yanek. CAFÉCS: Supporting quality CS access 4 all Chicago students. 2018 STEM for All Video Showcase,, May 2018.