An investigation of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Focused High Schools in the U.S.

Catherine Elizabeth Scott


This study examined the characteristics of 10 science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) focused high schools that were selected from various regions across the United States. In an effort to better prepare students for careers in STEM fields, many schools have been designed and are currently operational while even more are in the design phase. Data collected, analyzed and documented in this report included websites, national statistics databases, standardized test scores, interviews, and published articles. A comparative case design was used to identify key components of STEM high school designs.

Results from this study indicate that students who attend STEM-focused high schools outperformed their peers at similar institutions. Although programs varied, a common theme that emerged from these schools was a focus on more rigorous course requirements with electives centered on STEM content and application. Students who attended STEM schools were engaged in real world problem solving and completed internships and/or a capstone projects to fulfill graduation requirements. Most students attending STEM schools in this study were admitted based on a lottery system while two out of the ten schools admitted all applicants. The student population was comprised of a higher number of minority students compared to other schools in the United States. The findings in this study are significant because they indicate that many students, when given the opportunity and support, are able to successfully complete rigorous STEM academic programs that go beyond the basic graduation requirements.


STEM high schools, academic programs

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JSTEM. ISSN: 1557-5284