The Impact Of High School Science, Technology, Engineering, And Mathematics (Stem) Magnet Program On The Academic Performance Of Students

Gilberto D. Bonce, William & Mary - School of Education


Concern about the impact of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) programs on society are not new. STEM employment in the United States has grown twice as fast as other fields during the last decade. School districts have been encouraged to consider STEM-focused schools to meet this demand and have responded by offering STEM magnet program options. This mixed-methods study used Lewin's Theory of Change and Fullan's ideas on Coherence as the theoretical frameworks to examine how students who participate in a high school STEM magnet program perform academically. Academic performance was measured using grade point average (GPA) and graduation rate. We compared the number of mathematics and science courses students in a STEM magnet program completed to the number of courses completed by students not participating in a STEM magnet program. Additionally, we surveyed teachers and administrators to learn their perceptions of student success factors in STEM magnet programs. There was a positive difference in graduation rates with a low effect size. The differences in the number of math and science courses completed were not practically significant. Moreover, magnet students earned a statistically significant higher GPA than non-magnet students. Furthermore, teachers reported a high degree of teacher efficacy, while administrators rated themselves higher on general leadership ability than on STEM leadership. We recommend clearly defining STEM education, additional professional development for teachers and administrators, streamlining accountability for STEM programs, and continuing to invest in STEM education as a pathway to producing college and career ready students.