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Advanced course offerings and completion in science, technology, engineering, and math in Texas public high schools

The purpose of this study was to explore advanced STEM course offerings in Texas high schools and advanced STEM course taking among high school students to investigate variation in availability and enrollment for different school contexts and student groups. Using statewide longitudinal student records from 2007/08 to 2013/14 the research team examined patterns of course offerings using descriptive statistics from more than 1,500 public high schools in Texas, and student course completion patterns for close to one million students. Analyses revealed that access to advanced STEM courses in Texas has increased over this time period for schools in all locales, for schools with high and low proportions of economically disadvantaged students, and for schools with high proportions of minority students. High schools in urban and suburban areas and schools serving the highest proportions of Black and Hispanic students offered the greatest number of advanced STEM courses. In fact, a larger proportion of Hispanic and Black students in the state attended schools with the highest number of advanced STEM course offerings, compared to White students. However, despite this access to advanced STEM coursework, smaller proportions of Hispanic and Black students completed three or more advanced STEM courses than their White counterparts, even among a subgroup of high performing students based on math state standardized test scores in 8th grade. The findings from this study show that while Hispanic and Black students do lag White students in advanced STEM course completion, it is likely not because of lesser access to these courses. These findings point to a need for increasing Hispanic and Black student enrollment in those advanced courses and identifying mechanisms other than increasing course offerings to do so.
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Publication Date:
October 2017