Mayor Rahm Emanuel wrapped up Computer Science Education Week announcing that the Computer Science 4 All (CS4All) program nearly tripled the number of Chicago Public School (CPS) students participating in computer science. In its inaugural year, almost 17,000 CPS students – up from 6,000 in the 2013-2014 School Year – are receiving computer science instruction through CS4All at 70 Schools across the District.
Mayor Emanuel and CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett launched Computer Science 4 All in December 2013, elevating computer science as a core subject, expanding computer science classes to every high school and making computer science a requirement of graduation by 2019. The initiative is the most comprehensive K-12 computer science education plan in any major school district in the country.
“By increasing access to computer science and STEM opportunities, we are providing out students with the knowledge and resources necessary to succeed,” said Mayor Emanuel. “The City of Chicago continues to lead the nation in addressing our nation's deficit of computer scientists and is preparing to give our students access to great jobs and a successful future. Beyond STEM careers, our children are learning key skills needed for success in college, career, and life: problem-solving, confidence, and understanding the world around them.”
Through CS4All, nearly 17,000 students at 70 schools are now participating in computer science lessons across all grades K-12 as part of the first cohort of schools, including 46 high schools and 24 elementary schools. CPS will add a second cohort later this year to increase the number of students with access to computer science instruction and pathways.
Recognizing that computer-related jobs and career paths will dominate over 67 percent of all new STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) careers, Mayor Emanuel and CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett developed a 5-year plan to expand K-12 student access to computer science literacy. The plan includes:
• In the next three years, every high school will offer a foundational “Exploring Computer Science” course.
• In the next five years, at least half of all high schools will also offer an AP Computer Science course.
• Chicago will also be the first US urban district to offer a K-8 computer science pathway, reaching one in four elementary schools in the next five years.
• Within five years, CPS will allow computer science to count as a graduation requirement (e.g. possibly as a math, science, or foreign language credit).
To assist teachers with the computer science coursework, the City of Chicago partnered with Code.org, a nonprofit funded by tech companies such as Microsoft, Google and Facebook. Code.org trains teachers around the country, paying all associated costs, including teacher stipends. Last summer, Code.org paid to train 202 CPS teachers in the 46 participating schools in the first phase of the CS4All initiative.
Over 57,000 students across the City of Chicago are celebrating the National “Hour of Code” at 160 registered schools with 345 events, including schools, libraries and nonprofit sites. Code.org also celebrates each state by donating $10,000 to a teacher and school who registers to host a school-wide Hour of Code event. This year the winning teacher from Illinois is Brenda Remess from Mather High School. Mather has a full commitment to the computer science initiative with over 250 students from freshman through senior enrolled in the program.
Fifty Chicago Public Schools across the City are also receiving Microsoft IT Academies in collaboration with the City, the District and Microsoft. The Microsoft IT Academy program part of Microsoft YouthSpark builds on the CS4All initiative and is a comprehensive technology education for students, teachers and education professionals spanning computer basics to high-level programming.
The program includes everything a school needs to set up the Academy: curriculum content, Official Microsoft Course titles, certification, professional development, resources, instructor tools and partnership all designed to complement learning in the classroom and equip students with industry-recognized credentials that validate expertise with technologies regularly used in college and the workforce. For hundreds of teachers across the District, the IT Academy offers ability for them to keep their skills up to the minute with cutting edge software and 21st century skills.
These programs help address the current skills gap in STEM-focused fields. Approximately one-fourth of Chicago’s jobs are in STEM-focused fields. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, by 2020, the U.S. can expect almost 760,000 new jobs to be created in computer and information technology, yet American universities are only estimated to award 40,000 bachelor degrees in computer science in the same time period.
Last March, Mayor Emanuel announced a city-wide strategy to increase Chicago students’ access to high-quality STEM learning experiences from early childhood through college and career. The city-wide strategy will strategically bring together and direct educational, corporate, and philanthropic resources toward the shared goal of increasing STEM opportunities for Chicago students. With the support of multiple sectors, the strategy seeks to triple the number of Chicago students earning STEM credentials by 2018.