Key Levers for Advancing K-12 Computer Science Education in Chicago, in Illinois, and in the United States

Computer science has become an essential skill for K-12 students. As the demand for computing jobs grows, there is a pressing need to advance K-12 CS education across the nation. To achieve this, there are several key levers that can advance change, including policy changes, teacher training and development, increased access to technology and resources, and partnerships between educational institutions, non-profits, and industry leaders. By leveraging these, we can equip students with the skills they need to thrive in an increasingly digital world and drive innovation and progress.

Under funding and direction from the CME Group Foundation, we took a look at K-12 computer science education in Chicago and Illinois, in context with efforts across the United States. As a result of this work, we are pleased to announce our most recent publication on this work, Key Levers for Advancing K-12 CS Education in Chicago, in Illinois and in the United States.

In particular, the Foundation funded this study to understand:

  • How the landscape of K-12 CS education in Chicago has changed across 2013- 2022, with a focus on public schools, out-of-school-time (OST) programs, and research for evidence of progress.
  • The current strengths and opportunities of the K-12 CS education landscape in Chicago, in Illinois, and nationally.
  • How the support from the Foundation since it first started funding K-12 CS education in Chicago in 2015 has influenced the CS education landscape.

This qualitative study, conducted by Laycee Thigpen, Annamaria Lu, Monica McGill (all from the Institute for Advancing Computing Education), and Eva Giglio (CME Group Foundation), involved conducting 49 interviews (57 people in total). The interviewees represented a wide variety of organizations and voices.

Key findings for Chicago Public Schools (CPS) include the need to:

  • Support consistency and fidelity across schools
  • Continue to address the teacher shortage and to support the need for teacher CS professional development
  • Support research within CPS to inform decision-making to improve equitable outcomes for all students
  • Support workforce pathways for high school students
  • Support expanded K-8 CS, including integration into other subject areas
  • Support the design of scaffolded, standards-based curriculum

Specific to out-of-school time programs, we found that there is a need to support the creation, implementation and maintenance of ways to search CS learning opportunities and for program providers to also engage in partnerships with schools.

The report also details more findings for Illinois–some of which are similar, others that differ to meet the unique needs of rural communities.

We look forward to hearing your thoughts on the report!

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