The Effects of Project Lead the Way High School Curriculum on Science Achievement Gains
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This study examined the effects of Project Lead the Way high school curriculum on student achievement gains between eighth and eleventh grade standardized tests in a Missouri suburban school district. Difference in difference estimation was used to determine the outcome of PLTW curriculum on ACT scores while accounting for prior science aptitude by including eighth grade test scores. Students enrolled in at least one PLTW course experienced a 7.68% gain in achievement compared to their non-PLTW peers. Specifically, the students in the biomedical science PLTW program saw only a slight, insignificant increase in gains compared to the engineering PLTW program (0.11%). When the number of PLTW courses completed was examined compared to achievement gains, it was found that, in general, students that completed more PLTW courses saw higher gains, though some gains were not found to be significant (5.6% increase with one course, 6.85% increase with two courses, and 10.28% increase with three courses). These results indicate that the PLTW curriculum is successful in improving skills such as critical thinking and problem solving that are utilized on science standardized tests and should be considered by administrators as a tool to improve STEM education at the high school level.
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