WWC review of this study

Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math Education for the 21st Century (STEM21) high school impact evaluation: Final evidence report.

Education Development Center (2015, December). Waltham, MA: Author.

  • Quasi-Experimental Design
    , grades

Reviewed: August 2016

At least one statistically significant positive finding
Meets WWC standards with reservations
Science Achievement outcomes—Indeterminate effect found for the domain
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
Significant? Improvement

TerraNova: Science

STEM21 Academy vs. Business as usual

2 Years

Full sample;
228 students




Show Supplemental Findings

TerraNova: Science

STEM21 Academy vs. Business as usual

1 Year

Full sample;
390 students





Evidence Tier rating based solely on this study. This intervention may achieve a higher tier when combined with the full body of evidence.

Characteristics of study sample as reported by study author.

  • Female: 49%
    Male: 52%
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The study was conducted in secondary schools in the northeastern United States. Ten high schools in Connecticut participated. All participating students, in both the intervention and comparison groups, received instruction in classrooms within these schools.

Study sample

The intervention analytic sample included 114 students. Of this sample, 57% were male, 29% minority, 25% on free or reduced-price lunch, 4% special education, and zero were English-language learners. The comparison group analytic sample included 114 students. In the comparison group, 46% were male, 30% minority, 33% on free or reduced-price lunch, 2% special education, and less than one percent English-language learners.

Intervention Group

The intervention, STEM21 Academy, is a standards-based science, math, and technology high school course sequence utilizing blended learning and authentic experiences for content and skill acquisition. The blended learning occurs in the classroom guided by a teacher and uses online course management software to present interactive content learning modules and connect students with university STEM faculty, STEM professionals, and students in other districts. Experiential learning activities involve project-based assignments and periodic visits to universities and sites where STEM professionals are employed. The intervention is described as a grade 9 through 12 course sequence. This evaluation of the intervention presents findings that meet Group Design Standards following participation in grades 9 and 10.

Comparison Group

Students in the comparison condition are described as "non-participating," in contrast to those in the intervention condition. This description implies the comparison group received a "business-as-usual" condition. It is not clear from the study whether they were taught by teachers who also taught intervention students.

Support for implementation

Teachers providing instruction to students in the intervention received professional development prior to and during the intervention. A five-day summer institute taught teachers how to use the curriculum and online resources. Intervention "specialists" conducted classroom visits to improve content delivery and facilitated professional learning communities to promote sharing of best practices.


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