mathematics and science classes than students in the control group. And 92 percent of students who completed the Gateway program attended college, and the colleges they attended had mean SAT scores higher than the students’ own scores. Although the Gateway results show that programs supporting science and math can have significant effects on important school-based measures, it is important to note that, because Gateway consisted of many different forms of support (e.g., summer and in-school), it is unclear whether to attribute impact to one or another component or to a synergy among the program components.

The MESA Schools Program is designed to improve middle and high school students’ success in mathematics and science and increase the numbers of students from nondominant cultural backgrounds who pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. The program includes academic tutoring and counseling, peer supports (e.g., study groups, scheduling cohorts of participants in common courses), field trips, summer internships, and campus-based summer programs. The results of a study conducted in 1982 showed that MESA students had higher grade point averages than non-MESA students and, by senior year, the MESA students had taken more mathematics and science courses (Building Engineering and Science Talent, 2004).

The Gevirtz Summer Academy is an experimental five-week academic enrichment program. The curriculum reflects the local district curricular standards and takes an experiential and integrated instructional approach. The academy uses science as a unifying theme to teach language arts, mathematics, and science. A pre- and post-test evaluation examined the program’s effect on student attitudes as well as on standardized test scores (Brenner et al., 2001). A total of 94 students participated in the evaluation the first year, and 120 students participated in the second and third years. A matched comparison group was recruited from the same schools as the study participants. Comparing pre- and post-measures, evaluators found significant increases in students’ interest in science and in science careers and in their confidence and motivation in science. There were also improvements in students’ science test scores, but not in their mathematics test scores.

The Gervitz evaluators (Brenner et al., 2001) also pointed to the limitations of using standardized tests as a measure of the learning that took place in the program. They explain: “It was mandated by the school district and the funding agencies that we had to use standardized test scores as documentation of the benefits of the program. It is somewhat unrealistic that a five-week program would be able to greatly influence the scores on a test that is designed to measure a school year of learning.” They also point to the fact that the SAT 9 tests that they used, particularly the mathematics test, focused on basic skills, whereas the program curriculum was geared toward conceptual learning and the integration of mathematics, science, and language arts.

The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement