Over the past few years, interest in improving education in the areas of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) has grown. One area of focus has been the role parents play in ensuring their children succeed in STEM education. But parents alone are not enough to make sure that children not only earn high marks in STEM classes but also maintain an interest in joining the STEM workforce as adults. Children in grades K-12 need high-performing STEM education schools to succeed and persist in these areas.
Where can parents turn to find rankings of the best programs in K-12 STEM education? The United States Department of Education has oversight of the Institute of Education Sciences (IES), which is focused on conducting research into best practices in education, evaluating that research, and sharing its findings with the public. The IES consists of four different centers that specialize in unique areas of education, with the National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance (NCEE) responsible for evaluating programs that have received federal education funding. The NCEE produces the What Works Clearinghouse, where top-ranked programs can be found.
In the areas of K-12 science and mathematics education, two programs that received funding from the federal government ranked high in both areas. These two programs are the KIPP charter school system and the Teach for America program. These programs can serve as models for educators around the country who are interested in improving science and math education. Read on to learn more about these two programs and their successes in science and math education.
KIPP, which stands for Knowledge is Power Program, is a K-12 charter school with locations around the country. KIPP schools receive funding from several sources, including the federal government. As charter schools, KIPP schools are allowed to maintain selective admission standards. However, in some locations, KIPP school admission is determined by lottery. Parents, students, and teachers involved with KIPP schools are required to sign an agreement that stipulates certain behavior and performance guidelines.
In determining its ranking of the KIPP charter school system, the NCEE relied on research that studied 21,000 middle and high school students across 16 states and Washington, DC. This research provided evidence that the KIPP system had positive effects, with students increasing an average of 12 percentile points in math and an average of 11 percentile points in science.
The studies in math that resulted in the NCEE ranking compared the standardized test results of KIPP students with the standardized test results of non-KIPP students. In the studies, KIPP students showed positive gains from their KIPP education in math. As for the science studies, researchers again compared standardized test results of KIPP students with non-KIPP students. Like in math, KIPP students demonstrated positive results from their KIPP education in science, but because the evidence in science came from a smaller number of studies than in math, the NCEE determined a potentially positive effect of the KIPP system in science rather than the positive effect ranking in math.
Teach for America
Teach for America (TFA) is a program focused on providing a pathway for teacher certification. Participants in this program are those who hold bachelor’s degrees from selective colleges in subjects other than education. These participants are placed as teachers in understaffed and underperforming public schools for two years in exchange for the opportunity to earn their teacher certification.
In determining its ranking of the TFA program, the NCEE relied on research that studied 65,324 students from around the country. This research provided evidence that the TFA program had positive effects in math and potentially positive effects in science for the elementary, middle, and high school students in the study. TFA students increased an average of 4 percentile points in math and an average of 7 percentile points in science.
The studies in math that resulted in the NCEE ranking compared the standardized test results of TFA students with the standardized test results of non-TFE students. In the studies, TFA students were shown to have received a positive effect from their TFA education in math. As for the science program research, the NCEE again compared standardized test results of TFA students with non-TFA students. Like in math, TFA students were shown to have received a positive effect from their TFA education in science, but because the evidence in science came from a smaller number of studies than in math, the NCEE determined a potentially positive effect of the TFA program in science rather than the positive effect ranking in math.