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Expanding STEM opportunities through inclusive STEM-focused high schools

Abstract

"Inclusive STEM high schools (ISHSs) (where STEM is science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) admit students on the basis of interest rather than competitive examination. This study examines the central assumption behind these schools-that they provide students from subgroups underrepresented in STEM with experiences that equip them academically and attitudinally to enter and stay in the STEM pipeline. Hierarchical modeling was applied to data from student surveys and state longitudinal data records for 5113 students graduating from 39 ISHSs and 22 comprehensive high schools in North Carolina and Texas. Compared to peers from the same demographic group with similar Grade 8 achievement levels, underrepresented minority and female ISHS students in both states were more likely to undertake advanced STEM coursework. Hispanics in Texas and females in both states expressed more STEM career interest in Grade 12 if they attended an ISHS. Positive relationships between ISHS attendance and grade point average were found in the total sample and each subgroup in North Carolina. Positive ISHS advantages in terms of test scores for the total student sample were found for science in both states and for mathematics in Texas. For the various student subgroups, test score differences favored the ISHS samples but attained statistical significance only for African Americans' science achievement scores in the Texas study."

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