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Roughly one in 14 high school students takes a computer science course in a given year

CHICAGO – The Illinois Workforce & Education Research Collaborative, part of the University of Illinois System’s Discovery Partners Institute, released the first report of a five-part series on high school computer science education in Illinois. This comprehensive research into computer science education was funded by a $1 million grant from an anonymous donor.

The series, State of Computer Science in Illinois High Schools, analyzes the landscape, structures, and pathways of computer science education in the state and creates a baseline to measure the expansion of computer science education. Specifically, the five-part series analyzes the computer science education landscape; the computer science student body characteristics; the computer science teacher workforce characteristics; student outcomes as they relate to computer science coursework; and variations in computer science course offerings by Illinois high school districts. Data analyzed in this series from school years 2017-18 through 2021-22 were provided by the Illinois State Board of Education.

“This series is the first of its kind in Illinois in the way it analyzes student participation in computer science at the state level,” said Deba Dutta, interim executive director at Discovery Partners Institute. “The data in this report, and future reports from this series, are useful for informing policymakers about the state’s progress in making computer science education work for all students.”

This first report provides an overview of the computer science education landscape and analyzes overall participation in computer science coursework, when students enroll in CS coursework, popular computer science courses across the state, and more.

Key findings from the first report include:

  • On average, 7.4% of Illinois high school students enrolled in at least one computer science course in a school year.
  • About one in five computer science students take more than one computer science course in their high school academic career.
  • Career and technical education, or CTE, offers students diverse and flexible pathways to access and participate in computer science education throughout the state.
  • Chicago Public Schools drives diversity in computer science enrollment and districts throughout the state are improving in this regard as well. However, enrollment in the most popular computer science courses revealed racial/ethnic, gender and socioeconomic disparities in computer science participation.

“Findings from the report suggest that high school districts across the state are on their way to equitable access to – and participation in – computer science education, but there is still room for improvement,” said Stephanie Werner, project director of computer science education research at IWERC and co-author of the report.

The full report is available here.

For additional report findings, contact Werner at