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A Pilot Study to Identify Comparison Schools for MSP Participating Schools: Preliminary Findings on One Math/Science Partnership

Abstract

This pilot study proposes a set of analytical steps for comparing schools that participate in the National Science Foundation's (NSF's) Math and Science Partnership (MSP) Program and their non-participating peers in the same state. This pilot is part of a larger effort to evaluate the MSP Program's role in student achievement, with two companion analyses. In this pilot, we focus on a sample of participating schools in one partnership in one state. The non-participating schools were carefully matched with the program participating schools on eight demographic variables to form a comparison group. This paper offers detailed documentation on how we operationalize two matching methods for comparative purpose. We conclude that carefully executed matching methods are promising for large scale comparative analysis on the effects of MSP Program across different states. This illustrative study draws on publicly accessible school-level data files from one state and from data available at the National Center for Education Statistics' Common Core of Data. In addition, the study consults secondary materials only: available literature together with all of the annual reports, evaluation reports, MSPnet documents, and Web site information reported by the individual Math and Science Partnerships (MSPs) in the MSP Program accessible through the school year 2004-05.

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