Course-taking Patterns in Math and Science
The Strengthening Science Education in California initiative is undertaking new research examining course-taking patterns in math and science in middle and high school, and their implications for academic success. Insights gained from the new research are intended to inform instruction and education policy in ways that encourage an increase in student participation in the disciplines of science, mathematics, technology and engineering. We believe this work can provide educators, policymakers, and philanthropy with important information to understand the implications of course-taking patterns that will help them to develop strategies for sustained interventions that strengthen educational outcomes.
To carry out this research, the initiative welcomes Neal Finkelstein and colleagues at WestEd who will be conducting extensive data analyses exploring science and mathematics pathways from middle school through high school in California. SRI International will be conducting case studies of sample school districts to examine the courses schools offer. We postulate that the choices students make regarding assignment to and participation in mathematics and science sequences—even as early as middle school—are predictive of success in high school and beyond.
The results of the research will be widely shared with educators, policymakers the news media and others. Results of the initial phase of the research are expected to be available in fall 2012. Information gathered in the initial phases is intended to inform technical assistance efforts in selected school districts to improve students’ math and science course-taking. Funding for the research is provided through grants from the Noyce Foundation and the S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation.