by Mike Feder, Director of STEMx
STEM schools can be a vehicle for creating equity, setting high expectations, and an education that prepares kids for the 21st century world.
As STEM advocates, we believe in these schools. But data matters just as much as our beliefs. When parents and policymakers want more than the beliefs of educators, what are the best ways to demonstrate the merits of our work?
Sharon Lynch, professor at George Washington University, has been working on exactly this problem. She is the Principal Investigator for a project on inclusive STEM high schools that has produced in-depth case studies on some impressive schools across the U.S. Lynch is also co-PI on the iSTEM study, directed by Barbara Means of SRI International, that looks at the impact of STEM schools at large scale. Both studies were funded by the National Science Foundation, and together provide a picture of the exciting potential of STEM schools.
Dr. Lynch and her team identified eight high-quality inclusive STEM schools. They built a deep qualitative study of key features across those schools.
The studies are immensely detailed, and would serve as a great resource for those studying STEM. They detail the look and feel of a school from the perspectives of students, teachers, and administrators.
Don’t miss the video interviews the team created, either. Through these, you can hear from students themselves about what STEM education meant to them.
For me, as a former researcher, it’s so important that Lynch and Means didn’t stop at case studies. In North Carolina and Texas, The iSTEM team scoured reams of state testing data to see the measurable impact of these schools.
By combining qualitative and quantitative work, we get to see both the structure and the impact of STEM. This does many things, but critically it validates the different frameworks of STEM schools across several states, demonstrating the variety of STEM implementation at these high schools.
These are meaningful stories that bring great education to life. It’s exactly what we need to grow the influence and impact of STEM.