ERIC Number: ED570654
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2015-Jul
The Baltimore City Schools Middle School STEM Summer Program with VEX Robotics
Mac Iver, Martha Abele; Mac Iver, Douglas J.
Baltimore Education Research Consortium
In 2011 Baltimore City Schools submitted a successful proposal for an Investing in Innovations (i3) grant to offer a three year (2012-2014) summer program designed to expose rising sixth through eighth grade students to VEX robotics. The i3-funded Middle School Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Summer Learning Program was part of a larger Baltimore City STEM summer learning program entitled "Create the Solution" in 2012 and "22nd Century Pioneers" in 2013 and 2014. The five-week summer program offered in 2012, 2013, and 2014 consisted of a half-day of instruction in mathematics and science and a half-day of enrichment activities. The robotics workshop taught students the fundamentals of building robots and provided time for teams to build their own robots and participate in competitions. The larger program offered different enrichment activities such as sports or arts. This report addresses research questions regarding the program's: (1) implementation fidelity; (2) performance goals; (3) impact on student attendance and mathematics achievement outcomes; (4) impact on student aspirations for college, studying STEM subjects in college, and pursuing STEM careers; and (5) impact on measures of teacher effectiveness. The following includes a summary for each: (1) Implementation Fidelity: Instruction in mathematics and robotics was implemented with fidelity all three program years. Implementation fidelity was lower for the professional development in robotics and mathematics components of the program because teacher attendance rates did not meet the thresholds set by City Schools; (2) Enrollment Goals: Most program enrollment goals were not met. Enrollment in the i3-funded program was 193 students in 2012 (goal 400), 384 in 2013 (goal 500), and 386 in 2014 (goal 600). The program sought to enroll 80% low-performing students in mathematics each year, but fell significantly short of this goal despite the district's efforts to reach out to these students. In addition, the program goal of enrolling at least 50% female participants was not met. The program also sought to have at least 80% of students attend at least 70% of the time (17 of the 24 program days), but only 55% of students attended at that rate. The program did meet its goals for recruiting minority (at least 95%) and high poverty students (at least 80%) each year; (3) Program Impacts on Attendance: Found a significant program effect on attendance in the year following the 2012 program. Program students had average attendance rates of 1.4 percentage points higher than the comparison group the year following the program (97.0% vs. 95.6%). An even larger significant program effect for low-achieving students' attendance was found in the year following the 2012 program (96.4% vs. 93.8%). The 2013 program students had slightly but not significantly higher attendance rates than their matched comparison students in the year following the program. The authors also also examined whether there was still a program effect on attendance a year later (2013-14) for the Summer 2012 participants. Program participants had average attendance rates of 1.5 percentage points higher than comparison students (95.2% vs. 93.7%). Among the low-achieving students the attendance difference was 2.4 percentage points (93.6% for program students vs. 91.2% for comparison students). These effects were not statistically significant; (4) Program Impacts on Mathematics Achievement: There were no program effects on mathematics achievement for either the 2012 or 2013 programs; (5) Program Impacts on Student Aspirations: There was no evidence from student survey data that the robotics program had a positive effect on student aspirations to attend college, study STEM subjects in college, or pursue a STEM career for either the 2013 or 2014 programs; and (6) Program Impacts on Teacher Effectiveness: Analyses based on mean instructional effectiveness scores from Spring 2013 and Fall 2013 on the nine components of the district's teacher evaluation tool examined whether teachers who received the summer professional development in 2013 made gains in instructional effectiveness. The difference between program teachers' effectiveness scores before and after the professional development was not statistically significant. Data were not available to examine differences between program teachers and a comparable group of teachers who did not receive the summer professional development. The following are appended: (1) Implementation Fidelity; (2) Performance Goals; and (3) Methodology.
Descriptors: Urban Schools, Summer Programs, Grade 6, Grade 7, Grade 8, Robotics, Educational Innovation, Middle School Students, STEM Education, Workshops, Program Implementation, Fidelity, Goal Orientation, Program Effectiveness, Attendance, Mathematics Achievement, Academic Aspiration, Career Choice, Teacher Effectiveness, Surveys, Observation, Student Surveys
Baltimore Education Research Consortium. 2701 North Charles Street Suite 300, Baltimore, MD 21218. Tel: 410-516-4044; Web site: http://www.baltimore-berc.org
Publication Type: Reports - Research-practitioner Partnerships; Reports - Research
Education Level: Grade 6; Intermediate Grades; Middle Schools; Elementary Education; Grade 7; Junior High Schools; Secondary Education; Grade 8
Authoring Institution: Baltimore Education Research Consortium (BERC)
Identifiers - Location: Maryland (Baltimore)
What Works Clearinghouse Reviewed: Meets Evidence Standards with Reservations
WWC Study Page: https://ies.ed.gov/ncee/wwc/Study/84089