Evaluating the Reach, Quality, and Impact of Computer Science for All in NYC

About Computer Science for All (CS4All)

CS4All is a 10-year, $81 million public-private partnership between the City of New York and the private sector, designed to bring computer science education to every student in NYC public schools. Early in 2016, President Obama announced a similar nationwide push to expand computer science education and position students for success in our technology-driven world.

NYC’s initiative aspires to give students meaningful computer science (CS) experiences, building on prior exposure and skills, in all three grade levels: elementary, middle, and high school. To facilitate these learning experiences, a key component of CS4All is the scaling up of computer-science-focused professional development to nearly 5,000 teachers throughout the system.

CS4All is motivated by two goals. First, the initiative aims to equip the City’s students to be active creators of technology rather than merely consumers, thus preparing more students for the technology workforce. Second, CS4All aims to increase students’ computational thinking and problem solving abilities—a widely applicable set of skills important for a range of careers. CS4All’s goal is to provide equal access to computer science and computational thinking education to all NYC students.

 

About Our Evaluation

In 2016, the CS4All Founders Committee—which includes representatives from the New York City Department of Education, City Hall, the Fund for Public Schools, CSNYC, the Robin Hood Foundation, the Robin Hood Education and Technology Fund, and Math for America (MƒA)—selected the Research Alliance to evaluate the initiative, in collaboration with Education Development Center (EDC).

The nine-year evaluation will answer important questions about the implementation and impact of CS4All for NYC students, schools, and teachers. The study will examine how the initiative is being rolled out in schools across the City, as well as how professional development is being organized, how it is being accessed by teachers, and how it is shaping their classroom practices.

We will also measure short- and long-term student outcomes, including computer science knowledge and skills, as well as other measures of academic achievement, engagement, and non-cognitive outcomes, such as students’ sense of belonging and their awareness of computing careers and applications. The evaluation will focus on understanding how CS4All affects different groups of students, particularly those who are typically underrepresented in computer science and other STEM fields (e.g., girls and students of color).

Research methods will include interviews, surveys, and document reviews, along with analyses of teachers’ participation in professional development and data on students’ characteristics, course taking, and outcomes. Researchers will also conduct in-depth case studies in a subset of schools to understand more about how CS4All is being implemented and how the initiative is influencing school communities, teachers, and students.

Lessons learned from the evaluation will support the ongoing implementation of CS4All in NYC, and provide knowledge to help inform similar efforts in other cities.

This study is funded through the Fund for Public Schools.