Chicago becomes the first US city to make computer science a core subject

March 1, 2016


Chicago became the first major city in the United States to announce it will make computer science a graduation requirement for all high schools after a vote by the School Board.

Every student deserves to learn how software and computers work and gain skills to help them pursue the best opportunities in any future career. At a time when computer science is only offered in a quarter of American schools — with black and Hispanic students and girls especially underrepresented in the field as early as high school — this news is a major step in ensuring that every student in the nation’s 3rd-largest school district will leave school with a foundation for success.

This decision has been years in-the-making. Chicago was one of the first cities to introduce a nationally recognized course Exploring Computer Science to high schools in 2011 through a National Science Foundation grant. Building on ECS’s work and tenets, Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced a 5-year plan to make computer science a core subject in December 2013, and partnered with Chicago Public Schools to help expand Exploring Computer Science into more high schools by training teachers, while providing additional K-12 curriculum and teacher preparation.

Courses established in partnership with are already reaching more diverse students (34% of students are female and 60% are black or Hispanic). Curriculum is specifically designed to engage students who may not typically gravitate to the field.

There is still hard work to be done. About half of Chicago’s 106 public high schools now offer computer science, with courses available in a portion of K-8 schools. The city will need additional funding to roll out courses to every school. is proud to continue to work with local CS4All efforts and other partners to help all Chicago students access this foundational 21st-century field and excited to see the city set an example today.

Article originally published on

Bilal Kathrada, special guest speaker at Education @CTIVIST Conference 2016 – From Chalk to Click.Easter Holiday Bootcamp 2016
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