The Effect of STEM-Focused High School Education on Texas Student Outcomes
As STEM programs have become increasingly popular in the past decade, it is essential to understand how this educational framework affects academic performance during and after high school. Our data project focuses on Texas high schools that offer non-core, advanced, or specialized STEM courses beyond state-requirements in math and science. While accounting for confounding variables, the project analyzes six educational outcomes: college and career readiness rates, SAT and ACT above criterion rates, four-year longitudinal graduation rates, college enrollment rates, first year above 3.0 GPA rates at four-year colleges, and first year above 3.0 GPA rates at two-year colleges. We analyzed 1,675 high school campuses to see how much STEM-focused course offerings at the high school level contribute to higher graduation and college-readiness rates at the high school level and higher enrollment and performance rates at the college level. The results do not seem to indicate any significant impact of non-core STEM coursework on educational outcomes at a state-wide level. In comparison, factors such as percentages of students identified as at-risk, economically disadvantaged, and gifted and talented were found to be more accurate indicators of educational outcomes.