Inspiring science achievement: a mixed methods examination of the practices and characteristics of successful science programs in diverse high schools

Scogin S. C., Cavlazoglu B., LeBlanc J., Stuessy C. L.

CULTURAL STUDIES OF SCIENCE EDUCATION, vol.13, no.3, pp.649-670, 2018 (SSCI) identifier identifier


While the achievement gap in science exists in the US, research associated with our investigation reveals some high school science programs serving diverse student bodies are successfully closing the gap. Using a mixed methods approach, we identified and investigated ten high schools in a large Southwestern state that fit the definition of highly successful, highly diverse. By conducting interviews with science liaisons associated with each school and reviewing the literature, we developed a rubric identifying specific characteristics associated with successful science programs. These characteristics and practices included setting high expectations for students, providing extensive teacher support for student learning, and utilizing student-centered pedagogy. We used the rubric to assess the successful high school science programs and compare them to other high school science programs in the state (i.e., less successful and less diverse high school science programs). Highly successful, highly diverse schools were very different in their approach to science education when compared to the other programs. The findings from this study will help schools with diverse students to strengthen hiring practices, enhance teacher support mechanisms, and develop student-focused strategies in the classroom that increase science achievement.