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American Educational Research Association (AERA) Annual Meeting


The Chicago Public Schools (CPS) has taken a unique approach to broadening participation of low-income students, students of color, and girls by establishing Computer Science (CS) as a high school graduation requirement. This policy ensures that all CPS high school students will take a CS course, starting with the class of 2020. However, equity is more than just access. We define equity as equivalence in both the quality and outcomes of CS experiences. Exploring Computer Science (ECS) is the foundational course that fulfills the CPS requirement. Through ECS professional development, the number of qualified ECS teachers has grown. Two years into policy implementation, three-fourths of the schools offered ECS. Our prior research has shown that ECS participation rates by race, gender, and income closely reflect representation of the corresponding populations in CPS. In addition, student performance on the ECS end-of-course assessment was equivalent by race, gender, and income level. This evidence suggests that the CPS graduation policy is contributing towards equitable access to introductory CS with equitable course outcomes. Another outcome of interest is the equitable pursuit of advanced CS. Our primary research question for this poster is the extent to which there is equitable representation and outcomes of students who pursue advanced CS coursework in CPS. In particular, we focused on enrollment in the AP Computer Science A (CSA) and AP Computer Science Principles (CSP) courses from the 2014--15 to the 2017--18 school year. The 2014--15 school year was the first year that the CSP course was pilot tested in CPS, and the 2016--17 school year was the first year that the CSP exam was available. For every student enrolled in either AP CS course, the dataset included race, gender, special education status, English language learner status, free and reduced lunch status, overall GPA, AP course grade, and AP exam score. During the target period, enrollment in CSA declined from a high of 220 to a low of 136 students, while CSP enrollment increased from a pilot of 29 students to 693 students. The combined representation of students by race and gender in both courses was not reflective of the district's student demographics. However, student representation by race and gender was closer to the district representation for CSP than for CSA. We conducted a multiple regression of the factors that correlated with the AP exam performance. The students' overall GPA and the grade in the course were significantly correlated with exam scores. Girls scored statistically lower than boys and Latinx students scored statistically lower than Caucasian, Asian, and African-American students. Students who took ECS prior to CSP scored statistically higher on the CSP exam. These results show promise that using ECS as a foundation course is helpful for students who go on to pursue AP CSP. However, more work needs to be done to capitalize on the success of ECS to encourage CPS schools to offer AP CS courses and to encourage girls and students from underrepresented minority groups to pursue advanced CS coursework.

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

McGeeEtal2019SA-sessionslides.pdf (3376 kB)
special session conference slides