Recently, U.S. Representative Marie Newman announced $999,400 in federal funding has been awarded to support computer science pathways for high school students at Chicago Public Schools (CPS). Awarded by the National Science Foundation to The Learning Partnership, a research organization in Illinois’ 3rd Congressional District, Wright College, DePaul University, and the Chicago Public Schools to identify best practices on ensuring college success for CPS high school students interested in pursuing a computer science degree.
“Our nation has a fundamental obligation to invest in the educational programs that will provide our students with the practical skills they need to succeed in a 21st-century economy,” said Congresswoman Newman. “That is why I am thrilled to announce this crucial funding that will help provide computer science education for CPS students. There are thousands of unfilled jobs in computer programming across the country, and by investing in computer science pathways for our youth, we can ensure that they enter the job market with the education and tools to succeed.”
“The Chicago Public Schools has been revolutionary in recognizing the importance of computer science for all facets of modern society. CPS was the first and is still the only major school district to require one year of computer science for all high school students,” said Dr. Steven McGee, President of The Learning Partnership. “As a founding member of the Chicago Alliance for Equity in Computer Science, The Learning Partnership will be partnering with Wright College to study how to best support CPS graduates in pursuing computing degrees.”
Thanks to a new district requirement designed to prepare students for the computer-related jobs and career paths of the future, roughly 14,000 CPS students are graduating each year with at least one year of a high school computer science credit. This historic accomplishment represents over a decade of work by the Chicago Alliance For Equity in Computer Science (CAFÉCS), a group comprised of CPS teachers and administrators, The Learning Partnership, and computer science faculty from DePaul University, Loyola University, and UIC. CAFÉCS works to ensure students have access to high-quality computer science education. To build on this effort, The Learning Partnership will utilize the new federal funding to research the expansion of early college credit computer science courses in CPS and engage students in activities at local universities to recruit and inspire them through computer science pathways.
With a specific focus on students of color, the research by The Learning Partnership will study the extent to which early college computer science credit opportunities increase interest in the field leading to enrollment in courses along computer science pathways. Additionally, through a partnership with City Colleges of Chicago’s Wilbur Wright College, the organization will focus on potential mechanisms in which community colleges can reduce barriers and increase success for students on computing pathways.
Over the past several years, CPS has implemented one of the most comprehensive K-12 computer science education plans in any major school district in the country. Today’s grant award will continue to elevate the City of Chicago’s national leadership when it comes to not only expanding computer science courses for CPS students but also preparing them for success in college and their careers.