A New NSF Grant to Mitigate the Impact of COVID-19 on Chicago Public Schools

The Learning Partnership is proud to have received a grant today, in collaboration with the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) and the Education Development Center (EDC), that will allow us to conduct research and to develop teacher support programs in order to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the remarkable progress that has been made in Chicago in computer science education. Leading the nation in computer science initiatives after the implementation of a policy that made computer science a requirement for all high school students, CPS has made great strides in offering a high quality, equity-focused computer science course: Exploring Computer Science (ECS).

            Funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), the grant will allow the team, led by Steven McGee from The Learning Partnership, Andrew Rasmussen from CPS, and Kirsten Peterson from EDC, to examine differences in school’s remote learning plans, student access to technology, involvement in remote learning experiences by race and ethnicity, and whether those differences correspond with disparities in learning outcomes. By studying the overall impact of remote learning through the comparison of outcomes for the 2019-20 implementation of ECS in CPS relative to the previous three years, we will be able to use those results to inform policies and the type of assistance teachers will need for the upcoming school year. Vital to the success of students in the course, the EDC, in collaboration with Gail Chapman from ECS, will be developing and conducting online professional development, while CPS will provide one-on-one coaching to mentor and support teachers during this adaptation to online learning.

            Because the majority of students take ECS to fulfill the graduation requirement, this critical research will directly impact hundreds of CPS teachers and thousands of CPS students, many of whom are facing disproportionate barriers imposed by COVID-19. There are significant worries that the variation in remote learning policies could intensify inequities in access to ECS. The results will greatly inform strategies on emulating ECS’ effective, high-touch teacher facilitation strategies in an online format, how to effectively teach computer science for underserved students, and how to alleviate the impacts of COVID-19 on education.