Five years ago, the Chicago Board of Education made the landmark decision to enact computer science as a graduation requirement for Chicago Public Schools (CPS) students. At the time, only about 40% of the high schools in CPS even offered computer science. CPS adopted the Exploring Computer Science (ECS) curriculum as the foundation course for the requirement. ECS is designed to provide all students with a robust introduction to computer science regardless of their prior computing experiences. The rapid spread and implementation of the ECS course gave CPS confidence that 100% of the schools would be able to offer ECS within four years, and they did. In honor of CS Education Week, The Learning Partnership and CAFÉCS celebrate CPS and all of the CS teachers in Chicago achieving such a significant milestone. Below is a summary of some of the key outcomes connected to this groundbreaking achievement.
- Over 99.7% of the ~17K students in the graduating cohort of 2020 fulfilled the computer science graduation requirement. Less than 40 graduating students needed the waiver that CPS granted due to the pandemic.
- From the 2012-13 to 2019-20 school years, ~63K CPS students completed the ECS course. ~15K are presently enrolled in ECS.
- To date, nearly 500 teachers have participated in ECS professional development; 275 teachers are teaching CS in CPS this year.
- CPS teachers have been able to support all students to achieve equivalent ECS learning outcomes regardless of gender, race, or ethnicity.
- There is an increasing number of CPS students taking intermediate and advanced computer science courses because their introduction to computer science through ECS was personally relevant.
- CPS students who take ECS achieve higher passing rates on the AP CSA exam.
- The ECS professional development completed by CPS teachers has proven instrumental in increasing student success in the course.
- Through ECS, CAFÉCS is making connections to computational thinking in math and science.