Inclusive STEM high schools seek to broaden STEM participation by accepting students on the basis of interest rather than test scores and providing a program sufficient to prepare students for a STEM major in college. Almost nonexistent before the present century, these high schools have proliferated over the last two decades as a strategy for addressing gaps in STEM education and career participation. This study uses a meta-analytic approach to investigate the relationship between attending an inclusive STEM high school and a set of high school outcomes known to predict college entry and declaration of a STEM college major.
Combining effect estimates from five separate datasets of students from inclusive STEM high schools and matched comparison schools, the analysis reported here used data from administrative records and survey data for 9719 students in 94 high schools to obtain estimates of the average impact of attending an inclusive STEM high school on STEM-related high school outcomes. Positive effects for inclusive STEM high schools were found for completion of key STEM courses and for likelihood that students would engage in self-selected STEM activities. Students who attended an inclusive STEM high school also identified more strongly with mathematics and science and were more likely as high school seniors to be very interested in one or more STEM careers. Importantly, these positive impacts were found for low-income, under-represented minority, and female students as well as for students overall. Attending an inclusive STEM high school appeared to have a small positive impact on science test scores for students overall and for economically disadvantaged students, but there were no discernible impacts on mathematics test scores.
These findings suggest that the inclusive STEM high school model can be implemented broadly with positive impacts for students, including low-income, female, and under-represented minority students. Positive impacts on the odds of taking advanced mathematics and science courses in high school and on interest in entering a STEM profession are of particular importance, given the strong association between these variables and entry into a STEM major in college.
Means, B., Wang, H., Wei, X., Young, V., & Iwatani, E. (2021). Impacts of attending an inclusive STEM high school: Meta-analytic estimates from five studies. International Journal of STEM Education.