Project Lead the Way Evaluation
About the Evaluation
The Iowa Department of Education has assembled a team of researchers to evaluate Iowa Project Lead The Way’s ability to improve secondary students outcomes, develop future postsecondary science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) students, and develop a highly-skilled workforce for STEM-related occupations.
The initial phase of the evaluation asks the following questions:
- What are the demographic characteristics—sociodemographic, academic, and cognitive—of Project Lead the Way students and what characteristics predict entry into the program?
- Does student absenteeism decrease with Project Lead the Way involvement?
- Do Project Lead the Way students take more math and science courses than non-Project Lead the Way students?
- Are Project Lead the Way students more likely to take a high-level mathematics course than non-Project Lead the Way students?
- Is the cognitive improvement for Project Lead the Way students greater than non-Project Lead the Way students?
- Are Project Lead the Way students more likely to graduate from high school?
- Are Project Lead the Way students more likely to transition to higher education?
- Are Project Lead the Way students more likely transition into STEM-related programs?
This project uses longitudinal educational data from Iowa public institutions. Project EASIER, Community College MIS, Iowa Testing Services, National Student Clearinghouse, and transcript data from Iowa’s public universities:
- Project EASIER contains enrollment and course-taking records of all high school students enrolled in a public high school. It is maintained by the Iowa Department of Education.
- Iowa Testing Services contains student performance on the Iowa Test of Basic Skills and Iowa Test of Educational Development taken in Iowa. It is maintained by the Iowa Department of Education.
- Community College MIS contained enrollment and course-taking records of all community college students enrolled in Iowa’s community colleges. It is maintained by the Iowa Department of Education.
- National Student Clearinghouse contains enrollment records for over 3,000 higher education institutions in the United States. It is maintained by a non-profit organization.
- Iowa Public Universities (Iowa State University, University of Iowa, and University of Northern Iowa) have graciously agreed to provide limited transcript data to conduct this research.
The evaluation will determine the causal impact of Project Lead The Way on the outcomes listed above. In order to do so, the research team will match and compare similar students. Researchers use data from kindergarten through 8th grade to group similar students (e.g., similar test scores, sociodemographics). In particular, researchers match Project Lead The Way participants to similar nonparticipants. Thus, researchers can use the differences between two similar students to estimate the impact of Project Lead The Way.
Researchers use socio-demographic data, test scores from 8th grade Iowa Test of Basic Skills, and information from student’s schools to calculate the probability of entering Project Lead The Way. These calculations are performed before students decide whether or not to enter the program. Students with similar probabilities are matched together. In the following years, researchers record whether students participate in Project Lead The Way. Sometimes students who seem likely to enter the program will not and sometimes unlikely students will decide to enroll in the program. Researchers then use this information to calculate the impact of Project Lead The Way.
Evaluation results will be posted here as they become available. The initial phase of the evaluation is scheduled to conclude in 2012. See “Publications” and “Presentations” below for more information.
Presentations & Posters
This research grant is being funded by the Kern Family Foundation, Iowa Board of Regents, Iowa Math Science Education Partnership, Iowa State University, and the University of Iowa.