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Would a STEM School ‘by any Other Name Smell as Sweet’?

The purpose of the present study was to understand how students’ math scores change on Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) after their schools changed into specialized, inclusive STEM high schools. The sample was selected from five schools in the state of Texas and included 142 students who could be tracked from 7th to 11th grade (2007-2011). The longitudinal data were obtained from the database at the TexasEducation Agency (TEA). Paired t-tests by applying Wald Test of Parameter Constrained in Mplus 7 were computed, and the 95% CIs were interpreted to determine how students’ math scores on Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) changed. Results showed students’ achievement during their STEM school
experiences had a statistically significant increase (p<0.05 ;d =0.64) from 10th to 11th grade. When considering longitudinal change, there was a statistically significant difference in the growth rates favoring STEM school participation (p<0.05, d =0.34), and both genders experienced practically important changes (Male,d=0.30; Female,d=0.44). The changes that occurred as schools earned STEM designation seemed to have a positiveimpact longitudinally. However, it is important to monitor schools to determine if the improvements are durable.
Key words: STEM, Inclusive STEM schools, TAKS, T-STEM academies