Study of the Impact of Specialized Public High Schools of Science, Mathematics, and Technology
Completion of STEM Degree
- 49.8% percent of graduates of selective SMT schools
- 53.4% percent of Talent Search participants
- 22.6% of all students entering college complete a STEM undergraduate degree (source NSF)
- 26.5% of students scoring at the 95th percentile or higher in a sample of SAT-M test results (overall sample N=87,840)
- 17.3% of students scoring at or above the 95th percentile on the combined SAT Critical Reading, Math, and Writing tests (sample size=87,740)
Completion of STEM University Degree by Specialized SMT School Model
- School w School = 58.3%
- Residential = 51.7%
- Half-Time = 48.4%
- Full-Time Commuter = 42.3%
Percentage of Participants Completing STEM degrees by Gender
- Specialized SMT School = 46.1%
- Talent Search = 50.5%
- Degree Fields Selected by Participating Female STEM Completers
- Bio and BioMed = 33%
- Engineering = 11%
- Physical Science = 9%
- Mathematics = 6%
- Specialized SMT School = 57.8%
- Talent Search = 61.9%
Parent Working in a STEM Field
- Graduates of specialized SMT schools with a parent in STEM are 1.37 times more likely to complete a STEM related major than SMT graduates with no parent working in STEM related fields.
- Respondents from the Talent Search with a parent in STEM were twice as likely to complete a STEM degree.
- Looking at those without a parent in STEM, there was no difference in odds of completing a STEM degree between graduates of specialized SMT School or Talent Search.
- 20% of SMT school graduates who completed STEM degrees had parents with no education beyond high school; the same was true for 2% of the Talent Search participants.
Signature High School Factors that Predict STEM Degree Completion
- Participation in an authentic high school research experience:
- Overall, those who participated in high school research were nearly two times more likely to complete a STEM degree.
- Among female students, those who participated in high school research had nearly twice the odds (1.95) of completing a STEM university degree compared to females who did not.
- Feelings of belonging in the academic setting:
- 55.8% of respondents that attended a specialized SMT high school said that their high school experiences in SMT helped them to be well prepared in their chosen major, compared to their university classmates.
- 24.6% of Talent Search participants agreed.
Motivation and Interest
- 40% became interested in topics related to their eventual major before high school. Respondents in this group were 52.9% more likely to report that they earned a STEM related major or concentration.
- SMT school graduates motivated to attend their school based on interest in STEM were 2.5-4 times more likely to obtain a STEM degree than fellow graduates with different motivations.
- For SMT graduates who reported other motivations for attending their SMT school, the study found:
- Those primarily motivated by prestige and recognition were 30% less likely to obtain a STEM degree.
- SMT graduates whose attendance was primarily motivated by getting into a good college were 25% less likely to obtain a STEM degree.
- SMT graduates primarily motivated by the academic peer group available at the school were 30% less likely to receive a STEM degree.
Behavioral and Social Sciences (BSS) Degrees
- 28% of SMT school graduates reported earning an undergraduate degree in the behavioral or social sciences; Talent Search participants were no more likely to obtain a degree in these disciplines.
- SMT graduates with BSS undergraduate degrees, who reported that experiences in college (rather than high school) were the most important determinant of their major, were more than twice as likely to earn an undergraduate degree in BSS.
- There were no differences between college graduates in life or physical sciences and BSS in terms of self-reported intellectual capacity for mathematics and science.
Subotnik, R.F., Tai, R.H., Almarode, J , and Crowe, E. (2013). What are the Value Added Contributions of Selective Secondary Schools of Mthematics, Science, and Technology? Talent Development and Excellence Vol. 5, number 1. pp. 87-97.
Subotnik, R.F. & Tai, R.H. . (2011) Successful education in the STEM disciplines: Selective STEM schools. For workshop report conducted by the National Research Council’s Board on Science Education and board on Testing and Assessment on Successful STEM Education in K-12 Schools.
Subotnik, R.F., Edmiston, A., Lee, G.M., Almarode, J. & Tai, R.H. (2011). Exploring intensive educational experiences for adolescents talented in science. In A. Ziegler & C. Perleth (Eds.). Excellence: Essays in honor of Kurt A. Heller. Munich, Germany: LIT Verglag.
Subotnik, R.F., Tai, R.H., Rickoff, R. & Almarode, J. (2010). Specialized Public High Schools of Science, Mathematics, and Technology and the STEM Pipeline: What Do We Know Now and What Will We Know in Five Years? Roeper Review, 32, 7-16.
Since our last report to NSF, we have conducted the following status reports on the study:
- November, 11, 2010 in Atlanta, at the professional conference of the National Consortium of Specialized Secondary Schools of Mathematics, Science and Technology
- January 21, 2011 in Chicago, at a meeting of the Board of Directors of the Illinois Science and Mathematics Academy.
- March 7, 2011 in Maryland, at a gathering of students in the research program at Montgomery Blair High School Science, Mathematics and Computer Science Magnet.
- May 10, 2011, Workshop on successful STEM education in K-12 Schools, National Research Council, Washington DC
- August 6, 2011, American Psychological Association convention, Washington DC
- October 28, 2011 – specific date to be determined. The professional conference of the National Consortium of Specialized Secondary Schools of Mathematics, Science and Technology, Austin, Texas
- November 5, 2011, Convention of the National Association for Gifted Children, New Orleans, LA
- November 17, 2011, Invited presentation to meeting of National Sciences Resource Center
Our primary target is to generate policy recommendations for high schools that reflect the best practices available to talented and interested students in STEM at specialized high school. Our second target is to provide data to support [or not support] the development of additional specialized science high schools. In addition, we have recruited a panel of advisors (including Norman Augustine, lead author of Rising Above the Gathering Storm; Kathryn Sullivan, a member of the National Science Board until she stepped into her current position as Assistant Secretary of Commerce; and Barry Bozeman, Ander Crenshaw Professor of Public Policy at the University of Georgia) who are highly visible in the science education policy world. They have agreed to help us frame the policy implications of the study.