The role of STEM high schools in reducing gaps in science and mathematics coursetaking Evidence from North Carolina

By Elizabeth Glennie, Helen Mason, Benjamin Dalton

Some states have created science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) schools to encourage student interest and enhance student proficiency in STEM subjects. We examined a set of STEM schools serving disadvantaged students to see whether these students were more likely to take and pass advanced science and mathematics classes than their peers in traditional schools. Although some gaps in STEM coursetaking persist, economically disadvantaged and underrepresented minority students in STEM schools are more likely to take and pass these classes than their peers in non-STEM schools. Compared with non-STEM schools, the STEM schools have smaller gaps in advanced science and mathematics coursetaking and passing between disadvantaged and nondisadvantaged students.


Glennie, E., Mason, H., & Dalton, B. (2016). The role of STEM high schools in reducing gaps in science and mathematics coursetaking: Evidence from North Carolina. (RTI Press Publication No. RR-0025-1603). Research Triangle Park, NC: RTI Press.

© 2019 RTI International. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.


Elizabeth GlennieElizabeth Glennie, PhD, is a Senior Research Analyst in the Education and Workforce Development division at RTI International. She leads projects that involve acquiring and using data to conduct innovative problem-focused research on challenges facing students, teachers, and schools. In addition to conducting research, she has provided practitioners with research-based technical support on using various forms of data. Before coming to RTI, Dr. Glennie was the first Director of the North Carolina Education Research Data Center at Duke University, where she created procedures for transforming student data routinely collected by the State of North Carolina into a longitudinal data system that permitted addressing various questions about the school system.

Helen MasonMarcinda Mason, PhD, is a research education analyst in RTI International’s Education and Workforce Development division.

Benjamin DaltonBen W. Dalton, PhD, is an education research analyst at RTI International with expertise in the study of high school students, the high school curriculum, career and technical education, and international assessments of achievement. His research interests include course-taking and curriculum differentiation, racial and ethnic differences in educational outcomes, and the organizational characteristics of schools.

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