iSTEM: A Multi-State Longitudinal Study of the Effectiveness of Inclusive STEM High Schools

This is a quasi-experimental study of the effects of attending an inclusive STEM high school in three key geographic regions and comparing outcomes for students in these schools with those of their counterparts attending other types of schools in the same states. The study's focus is on the extent to which inclusive STEM high schools contribute to improved academic outcomes, interests in STEM careers, and expectations for post secondary study.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1817513
Funding Period: 
September 1, 2013 to August 31, 2019
Full Description: 

Researchers from SRI and George Washington University are studying the effectiveness of inclusive STEM high schools in three key geographic regions including Texas, North Carolina and Ohio. STEM schools continue to be an important policy area and test bed for one indication of what STEM education can accomplish under the most optimal conditions in which STEM is the focus of students' learning experiences. The President has called for the creation of an additional 1,000 STEM schools with relatively little evidence about the impact of such schools or the evidence of which configurations and elements of such schools are important. The study's focus is on the extent to which inclusive STEM high schools contribute to improved academic outcomes, interests in STEM careers, and expectations for post secondary study. The research study engages in implementation research to examine the elements of the STEM schools' design and implementation and other contextual factors, including state policies, which are associated with superior outcomes.

This is a quasi-experimental study of the effects of attending an inclusive STEM high school comparing outcomes for students in these schools with those of their counterparts attending other types of schools in the same states. The study includes all students in the 9th or 12th grade in the inclusive STEM high schools and students in samples of same-state comparison schools identified through propensity score matching. Data are collected longitudinally using student records and surveying students at regular intervals. The study follows the 12th grade students after graduation into postsecondary study and the workforce. The states identified in this study have the requisite administrative data systems to support the proposed study. By using a combination of data available in state-level data bases and new information obtained through project surveys, the researchers are identifying students who are matched not only on demographic variables and academic achievement before high school entry, but also on indicators of pre-existing interest and expectation such as self-efficacy and prior participation in informal STEM-related activities. Impacts on student achievement are analyzed separately for each state. Data on the elements of STEM schools are collected through teacher and administrator surveys and interviews. State STEM school history and policy data are collected through document analysis and interviews. The study utilizes hierarchical regression models, with separate models of each outcome measure and adjustments for tests of multiple comparisons. Student attrition is monitored and findings are examined to determine influence of attrition.

This project focuses on inclusive rather than selective STEM schools so that the population of students more typically represents the population of the students locally. The study provides a source of evidence about not only the effectiveness of STEM schools, but also contextual evidence of what works and for whom and under what conditions.

This project was previously funded under award # 1316920.

Project Materials