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Mathematics

Learning Trajectories to Support the Growth of Measurement Knowledge: Pre-K Through Middle School

This project is studying measurement practices from pre-K to Grade 8, as a coordination of the STEM disciplines of mathematics and science. This research project tests, revises and extends learning trajectories for children's knowledge of geometric measurement across a ten-year span of human development. The goal will be to validate all components of each learning trajectory, goal, developmental progression, and instruction tasks, as well as revising each LT to reflect the outcomes of the experiments.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1222944
Funding Period: 
Wed, 08/01/2012 - Sun, 07/31/2016
Full Description: 

This project is studying measurement practices from pre-K to Grade 8, as a coordination of the STEM disciplines of mathematics and science. This four-year, mixed methods research project tests, revises and extends learning trajectories (LTs) for children's knowledge of geometric measurement across a ten-year span of human development. Specifically, research teams from Illinois State University and the University at Denver are working with children in urban and suburban schools to (1) validate and extend prior findings from previous NSF-funded research developing measurement learning trajectories with children in pre-K to Grade 5, and (2) generate and extend portions of trajectories for geometric measurement for Grades 6-8.

The project employs a form of microgenetic studies with 24-50 children per grade from pre-K through Grade 5 representing a stratified random sample from a specific set of suburban schools. These studies will test the validity, replicability and generalizability of the LTs for length, area, and volume. The goal will be to validate all components of each learning trajectory, goal, developmental progression, and instruction tasks, as well as revising each LT to reflect the outcomes of the experiments. Analysis of variance measures with pre/post assessments in an experimental/control design will complement the repeated sessions method of microgenetic analysis.

To explore and extend LTs for children in Grade 6-8, the project employs teaching experiments. This design is used to generate and extend portions of trajectories for geometric measurement, and to explore critical aspects of measurement in clinical and classroom contexts. This work is coordinated with the teaching and learning standards issued by the Council of Chief State School Officials/National Governors Association, the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, the National Science Teachers Association, the American Association of the Advancement of Science, and the National Research Council with cognitive and mathematics/science education literature. Emerging constructs for the hypothetical LT levels in relation to relevant frameworks generated by other researchers and those implied by standards documents to establish ongoing sequences of the experimental interventions for grades 6-8 are being compared, critiqued and evaluated.

This project provides a longitudinal account of pre-K to Grade 8 children's ways of thinking and understanding mathematical and scientific concepts of measurement based upon empirical analysis. The resulting learning trajectory will represent state of the art integrated, interdisciplinary, theoretically- and empirically-based descriptions of increasingly sophisticated and complex levels of thinking in the domain of measurement (albeit, more tentative for Grades 6-8). This account will be used to verify and/or modify existing accounts of children's development of reasoning from short-term analyses of learning or cross-sectional studies. There are not yet integrative longitudinal studies describing this cognitive domain for area or volume measurement. This trajectory-based analysis of development and instruction supports the design and testing of integrative, formative assessment of individuals and groups of children. Such learning trajectories will be useful in implementing the standard-focused curriculum described in the Common Core State Standards Mathematics and in supporting the multiple large assessment projects currently underway

Learning Trajectories to Support the Growth of Measurement Knowledge: Pre-K Through Middle School

Assessing Secondary Teachers' Algebraic Habits of Mind (Collaborative Research: Sword)

This collaborative project is developing instruments to assess secondary teachers' Mathematical Habits of Mind (MHoM). These habits bring parsimony, focus, and coherence to teachers' mathematical thinking and, in turn, to their work with students. This work fits into a larger research agenda with the ultimate goal of understanding the connections between secondary teachers' mathematical knowledge for teaching and secondary students' mathematical understanding and achievement.

Award Number: 
1222426
Funding Period: 
Wed, 08/15/2012 - Sun, 07/31/2016
Full Description: 

Boston University, Education Development Center, Inc., and St. Olaf College are collaborating on Assessing Secondary Teachers' Algebraic Habits of Mind (ASTAHM) to develop instruments to assess secondary teachers' Mathematical Habits of Mind (MHoM). These habits bring parsimony, focus, and coherence to teachers' mathematical thinking and, in turn, to their work with students. MHoM is a critical component of mathematical knowledge for teaching at the secondary level. Recognizing the need for a scientific approach to investigate the ways in which MHoM is an indicator of teacher effectiveness, the partnership is researching the following questions:

1. How do teachers who engage MHoM when doing mathematics for themselves also bring MHoM to their teaching practice?

2. How are teachers' engagement with MHoM and their use of these habits in teaching related to student understanding and achievement?

To investigate these questions, ASTAHM is developing two instruments: a paper and pencil (P&P) assessment and an observation protocol that measure teachers' knowledge and classroom use, respectively, of MHoM.

The work is being conducted in two phases: (1) an instrument-refinement and learning phase, and (2) an instrument-testing and research phase. Objectives of Phase 1 are to gather data to refine the project's existing instruments and to learn about the bridge factors that impact the relationship between teachers' knowledge and classroom use of MHoM. Specific research activities include: administering the pilot P&P assessment to 40 teachers, videotaping Algebra instructions of 8 teachers, performing initial testing and refinement of the instruments, and using the data to analyze the bridge factors. Phase 2 is a large-scale study involving field-testing the P&P assessment with 200 teachers, videotaping 20 teachers and studying them using the observation protocol, collecting achievement data from 3000 students, and checking P&P content validity with 200 mathematicians. With these validated instruments in hand, the project will then conduct an investigation into the above research questions. Lesley University's Program Evaluation and Research Group (PERG) is the external evaluator. PERG is assessing ASTAHM's overall success in developing valid and reliable instruments to investigate the extent to which a relationship exists between teachers' MHoM and their classroom practice, as well as student achievement. Evaluators are also investigating whether users' coding guides for both instruments enable field-testers to effectively use and adequately score them.

This work fits into a larger research agenda with the ultimate goal of understanding the connections between secondary teachers' mathematical knowledge for teaching and secondary students' mathematical understanding and achievement. The MHoM construct is closely aligned with the Common Core State Standards-Mathematics (CCSS-M); especially its Standards for Mathematical Practice. For example, both place importance on seeking and using mathematical structure. Thus the instruments this project produces can act as pre- and post-measures of the effectiveness of professional development programs in preparing teachers to implement the CCSS-M. Mathematics teacher knowledge at the secondary level is an understudied field. Through analyses of the practices and habits of mind that teachers bring to their work, ASTAHM is developing instruments that can be used to shed light on effective secondary teaching.

Assessing Secondary Teachers' Algebraic Habits of Mind (Collaborative Research: Sword)

Assessing Secondary Teachers' Algebraic Habits of Mind (Collaborative Research: Matsuura)

This collaborative project is developing instruments to assess secondary teachers' Mathematical Habits of Mind (MHoM). These habits bring parsimony, focus, and coherence to teachers' mathematical thinking and, in turn, to their work with students. This work fits into a larger research agenda with the ultimate goal of understanding the connections between secondary teachers' mathematical knowledge for teaching and secondary students' mathematical understanding and achievement.

Lead Organization(s): 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1222340
Funding Period: 
Wed, 08/15/2012 - Sun, 07/31/2016
Full Description: 

Boston University, Education Development Center, Inc., and St. Olaf College are collaborating on Assessing Secondary Teachers' Algebraic Habits of Mind (ASTAHM) to develop instruments to assess secondary teachers' Mathematical Habits of Mind (MHoM). These habits bring parsimony, focus, and coherence to teachers' mathematical thinking and, in turn, to their work with students. MHoM is a critical component of mathematical knowledge for teaching at the secondary level. Recognizing the need for a scientific approach to investigate the ways in which MHoM is an indicator of teacher effectiveness, the partnership is researching the following questions:

1. How do teachers who engage MHoM when doing mathematics for themselves also bring MHoM to their teaching practice?

2. How are teachers' engagement with MHoM and their use of these habits in teaching related to student understanding and achievement?

To investigate these questions, ASTAHM is developing two instruments: a paper and pencil (P&P) assessment and an observation protocol that measure teachers' knowledge and classroom use, respectively, of MHoM.

The work is being conducted in two phases: (1) an instrument-refinement and learning phase, and (2) an instrument-testing and research phase. Objectives of Phase 1 are to gather data to refine the project's existing instruments and to learn about the bridge factors that impact the relationship between teachers' knowledge and classroom use of MHoM. Specific research activities include: administering the pilot P&P assessment to 40 teachers, videotaping Algebra instructions of 8 teachers, performing initial testing and refinement of the instruments, and using the data to analyze the bridge factors. Phase 2 is a large-scale study involving field-testing the P&P assessment with 200 teachers, videotaping 20 teachers and studying them using the observation protocol, collecting achievement data from 3000 students, and checking P&P content validity with 200 mathematicians. With these validated instruments in hand, the project will then conduct an investigation into the above research questions. Lesley University's Program Evaluation and Research Group (PERG) is the external evaluator. PERG is assessing ASTAHM's overall success in developing valid and reliable instruments to investigate the extent to which a relationship exists between teachers' MHoM and their classroom practice, as well as student achievement. Evaluators are also investigating whether users' coding guides for both instruments enable field-testers to effectively use and adequately score them.

This work fits into a larger research agenda with the ultimate goal of understanding the connections between secondary teachers' mathematical knowledge for teaching and secondary students' mathematical understanding and achievement. The MHoM construct is closely aligned with the Common Core State Standards-Mathematics (CCSS-M); especially its Standards for Mathematical Practice. For example, both place importance on seeking and using mathematical structure. Thus the instruments this project produces can act as pre- and post-measures of the effectiveness of professional development programs in preparing teachers to implement the CCSS-M. Mathematics teacher knowledge at the secondary level is an understudied field. Through analyses of the practices and habits of mind that teachers bring to their work, ASTAHM is developing instruments that can be used to shed light on effective secondary teaching.

Assessing Secondary Teachers' Algebraic Habits of Mind (Collaborative Research: Matsuura)

Supporting the Emergence of a Professional Teaching Community Through Collective Knowledge-Building in Assessment and Feedback of Mathematical Thinking (Collaborative Research: Brandt)

This collaborative project is developing an online, professional teaching community that addresses issues of assessment in mathematics classes. The developers are building on the success of the NSF-supported Math Forum's Problem of the Week program to create a community that works to increase students' mathematics learning by helping teachers stimulate student thinking, assess that thinking, and provide useful feedback to students.

Lead Organization(s): 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1221351
Funding Period: 
Sat, 09/01/2012 - Wed, 08/31/2016
Full Description: 

This collaborative work involves Drexel University and Temple University where they are developing an online, professional teaching community that is addressing issues of assessment in mathematics classes. The developers are building on the success of the NSF-supported Math Forum's Problem of the Week program to create a community that is working to increase students' mathematics learning by helping teachers stimulate student thinking, assess that thinking, and provide useful feedback to students. The teachers are working together to create rubrics for assessing the progress of students as they solve challenging mathematics problems. The program is structured so that the teachers are learning mathematics and assessment strategies in addition to establishing a research-based model for online, professional communities.

Researchers are studying how specific activities (e.g., discourse, active participation, use of rubrics, feedback, and reflection) and an online community support teachers' engagement in authentic and generative assessment. Researchers are using ethnographic methods to understand the development of the community, and conducting focus groups and individual interviews to determine the impact of participation in the community on mathematics teachers. In addition, they are collecting data through discourse analysis, student work analysis, and rubric analysis to determine the optimal design of the products. The intentional structure of the online community builds on research findings on creating professional communities and research on assessing mathematics learning.

Online professional teaching communities offer new venues for communication, professional development, and shared work among mathematics teachers. The Math Forum provides an optimal, online context for expanding the popular Problem of the Week into a productive discussion of assessment of problem solving, the building of specific rubrics, and the related reflection on how to encourage student thinking. This collaborative work will offer rubrics for assessing mathematical problem solving, a new model for online professional development, and extensive information on building an online mathematics community.

Supporting the Emergence of a Professional Teaching Community Through Collective Knowledge-Building in Assessment and Feedback of Mathematical Thinking (Collaborative Research: Brandt)

Assessing Secondary Teachers' Algebraic Habits of Mind (Collaborative Research: Stevens)

This collaborative project is developing instruments to assess secondary teachers' Mathematical Habits of Mind (MHoM). These habits bring parsimony, focus, and coherence to teachers' mathematical thinking and, in turn, to their work with students. This work fits into a larger research agenda with the ultimate goal of understanding the connections between secondary teachers' mathematical knowledge for teaching and secondary students' mathematical understanding and achievement.

Lead Organization(s): 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1222496
Funding Period: 
Wed, 08/15/2012 - Sun, 07/31/2016
Full Description: 

Boston University, Education Development Center, Inc., and St. Olaf College are collaborating on Assessing Secondary Teachers' Algebraic Habits of Mind (ASTAHM) to develop instruments to assess secondary teachers' Mathematical Habits of Mind (MHoM). These habits bring parsimony, focus, and coherence to teachers' mathematical thinking and, in turn, to their work with students. MHoM is a critical component of mathematical knowledge for teaching at the secondary level. Recognizing the need for a scientific approach to investigate the ways in which MHoM is an indicator of teacher effectiveness, the partnership is researching the following questions:

1. How do teachers who engage MHoM when doing mathematics for themselves also bring MHoM to their teaching practice?

2. How are teachers' engagement with MHoM and their use of these habits in teaching related to student understanding and achievement?

To investigate these questions, ASTAHM is developing two instruments: a paper and pencil (P&P) assessment and an observation protocol that measure teachers' knowledge and classroom use, respectively, of MHoM.

The work is being conducted in two phases: (1) an instrument-refinement and learning phase, and (2) an instrument-testing and research phase. Objectives of Phase 1 are to gather data to refine the project's existing instruments and to learn about the bridge factors that impact the relationship between teachers' knowledge and classroom use of MHoM. Specific research activities include: administering the pilot P&P assessment to 40 teachers, videotaping Algebra instructions of 8 teachers, performing initial testing and refinement of the instruments, and using the data to analyze the bridge factors. Phase 2 is a large-scale study involving field-testing the P&P assessment with 200 teachers, videotaping 20 teachers and studying them using the observation protocol, collecting achievement data from 3000 students, and checking P&P content validity with 200 mathematicians. With these validated instruments in hand, the project will then conduct an investigation into the above research questions. Lesley University's Program Evaluation and Research Group (PERG) is the external evaluator. PERG is assessing ASTAHM's overall success in developing valid and reliable instruments to investigate the extent to which a relationship exists between teachers' MHoM and their classroom practice, as well as student achievement. Evaluators are also investigating whether users' coding guides for both instruments enable field-testers to effectively use and adequately score them.

This work fits into a larger research agenda with the ultimate goal of understanding the connections between secondary teachers' mathematical knowledge for teaching and secondary students' mathematical understanding and achievement. The MHoM construct is closely aligned with the Common Core State Standards-Mathematics (CCSS-M); especially its Standards for Mathematical Practice. For example, both place importance on seeking and using mathematical structure. Thus the instruments this project produces can act as pre- and post-measures of the effectiveness of professional development programs in preparing teachers to implement the CCSS-M. Mathematics teacher knowledge at the secondary level is an understudied field. Through analyses of the practices and habits of mind that teachers bring to their work, ASTAHM is developing instruments that can be used to shed light on effective secondary teaching.

Assessing Secondary Teachers' Algebraic Habits of Mind (Collaborative Research: Stevens)

Learning Mathematics of the City in the City

This project is developing teaching modules that engage high school students in learning and using mathematics. Using geo-spatial technologies, students explore their city with the purpose of collecting data they bring back to the formal classroom and use as part of their mathematics lessons. This place-based orientation helps students connect their everyday and school mathematical thinking. Researchers are investigating the impact of place-based learning on students' attitudes, beliefs, and self-concepts about mathematics in urban schools.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1222430
Funding Period: 
Sat, 09/01/2012 - Mon, 08/31/2015
Full Description: 

Learning Mathematics of the City in The City is an exploratory project that is developing teaching modules that engage high school students in learning mathematics and using the mathematics they learn. Using geo-spatial technologies, students explore their city with the purpose of collecting data they bring back to the formal classroom and use as part of their mathematics lessons. This place-based orientation is helping students connect their everyday and school mathematical thinking.

Researchers are investigating the impact of place-based learning on students' attitudes, beliefs, and self-concepts about mathematics in urban schools. Specifically, researchers want to understand how place-based learning helps students apply mathematics to address questions about their local environment. Researchers are also learning about the opportunities for teaching mathematics using carefully planned lessons enhanced by geo-spatial technologies. Data are being collected through student interviews, classroom observations, student questionnaires, and student work.

As the authors explain, "The use of familiar or engaging contexts is widely accepted as productive in the teaching and learning of mathematics." By working in urban neighborhoods with large populations of low-income families, this exploratory project is illustrating what can be done to engage students in mathematics and mathematical thinking. The products from the project include student materials, software adaptations, lesson plans, and findings from their research. These products enable further experimentation with place-based mathematics learning and lead the way for connecting mathematical activities in school and outside of school.

Learning Mathematics of the City in the City

Developing Principles for Mathematics Curriculum Design and Use in the Common Core Era

This project is developing principles for supporting middle school mathematics teachers' capacity to use curriculum resources to design instruction that addresses the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics. These principles are intended for: (1) curriculum developers; (2) professional development designers, to help teachers better utilize curriculum materials with respect to the CCSSM; and (3) teachers, so that they can use curriculum resources to design instruction that addresses the CCSSM.

Award Number: 
1222359
Funding Period: 
Wed, 08/15/2012 - Sun, 07/31/2016
Project Evaluator: 
Horizon Research
Full Description: 

This project is developing principles for supporting middle school mathematics teachers' capacity to use curriculum resources to design instruction that addresses the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics (CCSSM). These principles are intended for: (1) curriculum developers to help in the design of curriculum materials; (2) professional development designers and local instructional leaders, to help teachers understand and better utilize curriculum materials with respect to the CCSSM; and (3) teachers, so that they can use curriculum resources to design instruction that addresses the CCSSM. The study addresses the following research questions:

1. What design features of materials support effective instructional design?

2. What teacher and district characteristics support effective instructional design?

3. How do teachers use materials to design instruction that addresses the new CCSSM?

4. What design practices lead to instruction that addresses the progressions and practices in the CCSSM?

A sample of teachers across grades 6 - 8 and their instructional leaders will be selected, up to a maximum of 72 teachers. The sample of teachers is purposefully diverse in terms of demographic, geographic, and curriculum contexts. The curricula include NSF-funded programs as well as commercially-developed programs. The ways teachers understand and access curriculum resources in fully digital environments as well as more conventional media will be studied. Partnering institutions include the University of Rochester, Michigan State University, Western Michigan University, and Washington State University Tri-Cities.

The data collection includes surveys, assessments of teachers' mathematical knowledge for teaching, observations of teachers' use and enactment of curriculum materials, analyses of student text and associated teacher resource materials, and teacher logs. These data are used to test conjectures about: (1) how curriculum materials, particularly the teacher resources, can be better designed to help teachers productively design instruction, especially with regard to incorporating the mathematical practices in the CCSSM; and (2) how teachers can be better supported to understand and use curriculum resources. The project evaluation includes formative and summative components, providing information and assistance to ensure that the project addresses its stated goals and employs rigorous methodology. Multiple methods are being used to collect evaluation data, including observations, interviews, and document review.

The deliverables are aimed at audiences who can impact large numbers of teachers and students, such as curriculum developers, designers of professional development, and researchers. The deliverables include: (1) guidelines for curriculum developers that are intended to make curriculum resources more transparent and accessible; (2) guidelines for instructional leaders to support teachers to use curriculum materials to design instruction that addresses the rigorous features of the CCSSM, and (3) refined instruments for studying teachers' curricular practices.

Developing Principles for Mathematics Curriculum Design and Use in the Common Core Era

Supporting the Emergence of a Professional Teaching Community Through Collective Knowledge-Building in Assessment and Feedback of Mathematical Thinking (Collaborative Research: Silverman)

This collaborative project is developing an online, professional teaching community that addresses issues of assessment in mathematics classes. The developers are building on the success of the NSF-supported Math Forum's Problem of the Week program to create a community that works to increase students' mathematics learning by helping teachers stimulate student thinking, assess that thinking, and provide useful feedback to students.

Lead Organization(s): 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1222355
Funding Period: 
Sat, 09/01/2012 - Wed, 08/31/2016
Full Description: 

This collaborative work involves Drexel University and Temple University where they are developing an online, professional teaching community that is addressing issues of assessment in mathematics classes. The developers are building on the success of the NSF-supported Math Forum's Problem of the Week program to create a community that is working to increase students' mathematics learning by helping teachers stimulate student thinking, assess that thinking, and provide useful feedback to students. The teachers are working together to create rubrics for assessing the progress of students as they solve challenging mathematics problems. The program is structured so that the teachers are learning mathematics and assessment strategies in addition to establishing a research-based model for online, professional communities.

Researchers are studying how specific activities (e.g., discourse, active participation, use of rubrics, feedback, and reflection) and an online community support teachers' engagement in authentic and generative assessment. Researchers are using ethnographic methods to understand the development of the community, and conducting focus groups and individual interviews to determine the impact of participation in the community on mathematics teachers. In addition, they are collecting data through discourse analysis, student work analysis, and rubric analysis to determine the optimal design of the products. The intentional structure of the online community builds on research findings on creating professional communities and research on assessing mathematics learning.

Online professional teaching communities offer new venues for communication, professional development, and shared work among mathematics teachers. The Math Forum provides an optimal, online context for expanding the popular Problem of the Week into a productive discussion of assessment of problem solving, the building of specific rubrics, and the related reflection on how to encourage student thinking. This collaborative work will offer rubrics for assessing mathematical problem solving, a new model for online professional development, and extensive information on building an online mathematics community.

Supporting the Emergence of a Professional Teaching Community Through Collective Knowledge-Building in Assessment and Feedback of Mathematical Thinking (Collaborative Research: Silverman)

Exploring Methods for Improving Teachers' Mathematical Quality of Instruction

In this project, researchers are working with 4th and 5th grade teachers to improve their mathematics instruction by experimenting with different ways to implement the MQI model of professional development. The professional development experiences are intentionally aligned with the Mathematical Quality of Instruction (MQI) observation instrument. This research can inform models of professional development by providing more information about various ways that the same model of professional development can be implemented.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1221693
Funding Period: 
Sat, 12/01/2012 - Mon, 11/30/2015
Full Description: 

The Exploring Methods for Improving Teachers' Mathematical Quality of Instruction (MQI) is an exploratory project at Harvard Graduate School of Education. Researchers are working with 4th and 5th grade teachers to improve their mathematics instruction by experimenting with different ways to implement the MQI model of professional development. The professional development requires teachers to critique and discuss videos of mathematics instruction. The professional development experiences are intentionally aligned with the Mathematical Quality of Instruction (MQI) observation instrument.

The researchers are investigating the impact of several variables on the success of their professional development model as measured by how well teachers can assess videos of mathematics instruction. Researchers are exploring the model by varying the modes of delivery (face-to-face or internet), meeting time (weekly or bi-weekly), facilitator involvement (high or low) and the type of video used (project video or personal video). They are producing case studies using the school group as the unit of analysis.

This research can inform models of professional development by providing more information about various ways that the same model of professional development can be implemented. The use of case studies provides an in depth understanding of the group dynamics and how the variables influence what is learned and observed by teachers of mathematics.

Exploring Methods for Improving Teachers' Mathematical Quality of Instruction

Scale-Up of Selective STEM Specialty Schools: Efficacy Study

This study addresses the question: Does gaining admission to a selective STEM specialty school improve students' academic success on the SAT, SAT II, and Advanced Placement exams? Other portions of the investigation follow additional student outcomes, including: participation and success in STEM competitions; STEM publications; intentions for postsecondary STEM education and STEM careers; and initial postsecondary STEM education. This study seeks to inform considerations of the cost/benefit of directing resources to support such schools.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1221459
Funding Period: 
Sat, 09/01/2012 - Wed, 08/31/2016
Full Description: 

The desire to better empower high-ability STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) students has contributed in the last two decades to a jump in the creation of selective STEM specialty high schools. These schools devote all of their attention to a student body comprised only of the most talented students, ones who are most likely to be able to learn the most demanding STEM content, reach their STEM learning potential, and pursue postsecondary STEM study and careers. However, there are mixed views on the role that selective STEM specialty schools play in achieving their mission. While commenting on what is known regarding education in the STEM disciplines, a recent National Research Council report entitled "Successful K-12 STEM Education" notes that "there are no systematic data that show whether the highly capable students who attend those schools would have been just as likely to pursue a STEM major or related career or make significant contributions to technology or science if they had attended another type of school." To address the research gap, this impact study addresses the question: Does gaining admission to a selective STEM specialty school improve students' academic success on the SAT, SAT II (Math Level 2), and Advanced Placement exams (Calculus AB, Chemistry, and Physics B)? Other portions of the investigation follow additional student outcomes, including: participation and success in STEM competitions; STEM publications; National Merit scholarships; intentions for postsecondary STEM education and STEM careers; and initial postsecondary STEM education.

This study is based on the most rigorous possible design for the focal topic: a true experimental investigation of outcomes for students from many selective STEM specialty schools. The study is being accomplished through random assignment of equivalent treatment and control groups, and based on enough students to yield statistical power that can produce the most clear causal result possible. Researchers are recruiting all qualified students who apply for admission to 20 selective STEM specialty schools among the approximately 100 such schools currently in the United States. For the class entering in fall 2013, study schools are revising their routine selection process to one of assigning students for acceptance (treatment condition) or not (control condition) through random assignment of qualified applicants. Researchers, then, are following treatment students via their STEM schools and also intensively tracking all control students wherever they continue their secondary education. The study also investigates relative cost-effectiveness for educating high-achieving students in selective STEM schools versus educating them at other schools.

Since there is an acute and growing U.S. shortage of STEM professionals and technicians, it is imperative for the nation's education system to ensure that talented STEM students are reaching their maximum potential and pursuing postsecondary STEM degree programs and careers. As one strategy increasingly being used to address this need is to educate talented STEM students in selective STEM specialty schools, this study is informing considerations of the cost/benefit of directing resources to support such schools.

Scale-Up of Selective STEM Specialty Schools: Efficacy Study
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