IMPLICATIONS FOR SCHOOL LEADERS OF THE IMPACT OF MATH, SCIENCE, AND TECHNOLOGY MAGNET PROGRAMS ON MIDDLE
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Although many national studies have been conducted on the effectiveness of magnet programs, there is limited research involving math, science, and technology magnet schools and their influence on student academic performance, especially at the middle school level. The purpose of this study was to determine whether a statistical difference existed between those students’ academic achievement who participated in math, science, and technology magnet programs in middle school and those who did not. Specifically, this study explored possible differences of students’ academic achievement in math and science as measured by the state achievement test as a function of participation in a math, science, and technology magnet program and non-magnet program for the full three years of middle school (i.e., sixth- through eighth-grade). In addition, this study examined if ethnicity, socioeconomic, and/or gender have a moderating effect on math and/or science achievement. This study was conducted in a large urban school district in Texas. The test scores of a total of 1,551 eighth grade students who had participated in math, science, and technology magnet programs and non-magnet programs for the full three years of middle schools were analyzed. To measure student achievement, the math and science Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) exams were examined. In general, the students who participated in the magnet programs had higher math and science achievement as measured by the TAKS exams. There are several conclusions and recommendations as a result of this research. In general, it is recommended that district leaders must carefully analyze and place great emphasis upon the following areas: (a) the financial cost of adequately funding a magnet program; (b) the accountability standards; and (c) the ultimate goal of magnet programs. This research has demonstrated in a general framework that magnet programs do produce higher achieving students. Therefore, appropriate, immediate, and necessary steps must be taken to ensure equity in access to high quality magnet programs for all students.