STEM School Performance: Leading the Way
In the few years since the first class of STEM students enrolled in North Carolina New Schools-affiliated schools, they have performed exceptionally well on virtually every measure of success compared with traditional North Carolina high schools. Such results validate the North Carolina New Schools approach to school development, whether STEM focused or not: engage students, challenge them with relevant, real-world-focused instruction, have high expectations and provide support in the form of caring, knowledgeable teachers and mentors. What's particularly noteworthy is that STEM schools-like most North Carolina New Schools-affiliated schools-have a disproportionate number of low-wealth, minority, and first-generation-college-going students.
STEM school student performance successes include the following:
• Seven of nine STEM high schools in 2011 had graduation rates exceeding 90 percent.
• STEM schools had significantly fewer dropouts in 2009-10, the most recent year for which data is available. The state's STEM schools had a dropout rate of 1.6 percent, less than half the 3.75 percent rate for all high schools in North Carolina.
• STEM-school students together achieved a gain of nearly 20 percentage points in 2010 on their passing rate for all state End-of-Course exams. The state's overall gain was 8.8 points.
• Students achieved similar strong results in Algebra II (27.2 point gain in passing rate for STEM students vs. 12.4 percent for the state), biology (21.9 point gain vs. 9.7 points for the state) and English I (15.5 point gain vs. 8.3 point gain for the state).
• Students in STEM schools are taking more rigorous math courses, as measured by the percentage of all students enrolled in Algebra II. In STEM schools, 31 percent took the math course in 2009-10 compared to 18 percent of all high school students statewide.