In the past 5 years, two separate efforts to improve the performance of Georgia students in STEM subjects have been executed by the Georgia Department of Education and the University System of Georgia with minimal cooperation or collaboration. This apparent conflict between two separately administered programs attempting to improve performance of k12 students in stem subjects gives rise to the question: can national STEM goals be realized at the local school system level? In other words, does STEM policy matter at the local level? If not, can the policy ever be successful?
Our data sources regarding the USG project would include interviews of the primary investigator, k12 participants, students, and data from educational outcome measures such as educational scorecards. Data regarding the State DOE effort would include interviews of the state school superintendent, program managers for math and science curriculum reform, members of the state school board association, and sample of teachers and students. Performance data is available from the State DOE on normal scorecard measures.
Cases focusing on two counties: one which participated in the NSF funded USG project and one that did not will be conducted as part of a comparative strategy.
Further description of programs to be analyzed
Units of the University System of Georgia have been engaged in a multi-year, multi-disciplinary, multi-million dollar NSF funded initiative designed to improve STEM outcomes in K12 students. One goal was to increase the responsiveness of higher education to K12 needs including, but not limited to, appropriate education and support of teachers and teacher candidates, reform of science and math curricula, promotion of STEM subjects among parents and students, and so forth. The program is now nearing the end of its funding (6 years) so now is the time to ask the question by analyzing data from the perspective of the higher ed institutions, the k12 systems, k12 teachers, and k12 students. However, K12 administrators were busy reforming science and math curricula without direct participation of higher education institutions. Circumstances in Georgia offer an opportunity to assess this intervention as a natural experiment given that not all k12 systems were chosen to participate in the NSF funded intervention. Thus state effects will be constant between the systems that participated in the program and those that did not.