Wang, H., & Means, B., Young, V., & House, A. (2018, March). A longitudinal study of the impact of attending an inclusive STEM high school: The case for using two comparison groups [Paper presentation]. Society for research on educational effectiveness annual meeting, Washington, DC, United States.
Policymakers argue that only by enlarging the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) pipeline in a way that attracts, supports, and sustains the participation of students from all kinds of backgrounds can the United States meet its needs for science and technology innovation, economic prosperity, and social well-being (National Academies, 2005). To meet this need, inclusive STEM high schools (ISHSs) combine rich STEM course offerings and experiences with an explicit mission to serve students from under-represented groups accepted on the basis of interest rather than competitive examination. One of the distinctive features of the present ISHS study is that it provides a comprehensive picture of the impact of ISHSs by using two sets of comparison groups: schools in the same districts as the ISHSs to control for local context; and comparable schools in districts with no access to STEM schools to alleviate potential bias caused by student self-selection into ISHSs. The two comparisons validate each other in providing solid evidence regarding the impact of ISHSs. This study addresses the following research questions: (1) Do students attending ISHSs differ from students in other same-district high schools in terms of demographic characteristics and middle school achievement? and (2) Is there evidence of an impact of ISHS attendance on students’ persistence to 12th grade, high school graduation, and college readiness and aspirations? The data indicates that North Carolina ISHSs served a diverse set of students. Compared with students in the same districts, ISHS students had slightly lower incoming academic achievement and were more likely to be African American and to come from low-income households. Within- and out-of-district comparisons provide consistent findings on the impact of ISHS attendance. ISHS attendance appears to have a positive impact on students’ persistence to 12th grade, high school graduation, and college readiness and aspirations. [SREE documents are structured abstracts of SREE conference symposium, panel, and paper or poster submissions.]