Education and Experience: Do Teacher Qualifications in Career-Focused STEM Courses Make a Difference?

Using high school statewide longitudinal data from Maryland from 2012-2022, this study will first document who has taught STEM-CTE courses over this period. After exploring the teaching landscape, the study will then explore whether qualifications (i.e., education, credentials, teaching experience) of teachers in STEM-CTE high school courses were associated with their students’ success.

Full Description: 

When high school students take “STEM-CTE” (i.e., career and technical education courses in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields), they have much stronger outcomes across the school-to-college/career pipeline, including lower dropout rates and better attendance in high school, stronger math achievement in 12th grade, and higher odds of pursuing advanced STEM courses in high school and college. Growing teacher research shows that teachers matter for students’ success, particularly in STEM. In particular, research has established that teacher education and credentials in STEM fields, as well as years of classroom teaching experiences are key teacher factors in supporting student outcomes. However, there has been limited prior research regarding (a) who teaches STEM-CTE courses and (b) whether the benefits of these courses and pathways are driven or influenced by specific characteristics of STEM-CTE teachers. This project will aim to explore these questions.

Using high school statewide longitudinal data from Maryland from 2012-2022, this study will first document who has taught STEM-CTE courses over this period. The dataset includes approximately 5,000 unique teacher observations and approximately 500,000 unique student observations. After exploring the teaching landscape, the study will then explore whether qualifications (i.e., education, credentials, teaching experience) of teachers in STEM-CTE high school courses were associated with their students’ success. Indicators of success in the dataset include end-of-course grades, STEM-CTE concentration/industry-recognized credentialing, advanced STEM coursetaking (e.g., honors, AP, IB, dual-enrollment), STEM standardized test scores, math SAT/ACT scores, attendance/suspension rates, on-time graduation, and reduced dropout. Data analysis includes multivariate regression analyses, supplemented with tests for nonrandom sorting of teachers to students.

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