Residential Schools of Mathematics and Science for Academically Talented Youth: An Analysis of Admission Programs

Fathi A. Jarwan
John F. Feldhusen

The purpose of this project was to analyze and evaluate the procedures used in selecting youth for state supported residential schools of mathematics and science. A combination of qualitative and quantitative research designs was used to test the predictive potential of selection variables. Special forms were used to collect quantitative and demographic data. The predictor variables included home school grade point average (GPA), standardized aptitude test (SAT-M, SAT-V, or ACT) scores, interview ratings, file ratings, and composite scores. The criterion variables included first and second year adjusted grade point averages (GPA), and the overall first and second year GPAs. An interview protocol composed of 12 questions was developed to survey administrators regarding information about admission programs. Promotional literature of all schools was another source of information about admissions.

Results of the correlation and regression analyses of pre- and post-admission data from seven schools indicated that the student’s home school adjusted grade point average was the best predictor of first and second year grade point averages. The Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) was the second best predictor.

Ratings of complete files and ratings of applicants by admission interviewers were of far less value in predicting student achievement; there was a great deal of fluctuation and inconsistency in how they correlated with criterion variables. Composite scores function poorly and inconsistently for predicting first year GPA in most schools. Overall, statistical prediction is superior to professional prediction by interview or rating of complete files.

Analysis of enrollment data indicate that African Americans and Hispanic students are proportionally underrepresented, while Asian students are proportionally over-represented. White students are fairly represented in some schools, underrepresented in some schools, and over-represented in others. Male students outnumbered female students in some schools and vice versa. Male students outscore female students on the mathematical section of the SAT.

Results of the interviews indicated that the use of multiple criteria is seen by administrators as a major strength of their identification systems, but the lack of minority representation is viewed as a major weakness. The relatively high rate of attrition is also viewed as a weakness. Teachers in most schools are not directly involved in identification and selection processes. Instead, decisions were made by admission personnel, counselors, and administrative staff.


Jarwan, F. A., & Feldhusen, J. F. (1993). Residential schools of mathematics and science for academically talented youth: An analysis of admission programs (CRS93304). Storrs: University of Connecticut, The National Research Center on the Gifted and Talented.

Residential Schools of Mathematics and Science for Academically Talented Youth: An Analysis of Admission Programs
Fathi A. Jarwan
John F. Feldhusen



  1. The use of empirical data (regression analyses) yielded quite accurate predictions of achievement in the residential schools and indicated which variables were best predictors in the identification-selection process.
  2. In this study, the best predictors or selection criteria were GPA in the high school courses taken prior to selection and admission to the residential school or SAT or ACT scores.
  3. Adequate training of committee members and faculty who are involved in the selection process is necessary to assure a reasonable degree of cross-rater or cross-interviewer reliability.
  4. Active involvement of teachers in the identification and selection processes and the use of information collected during these processes may be important factors for lowering attrition rates and for planning successful instruction.
  5. Identification/selection of students for residential school programs is basically a measurement and statistical process and should be carried out by personnel who are well trained and competent in these areas.
  6. The articulation of the identification-selection system with the curriculum and evaluation methods is essential to program success for gifted and talented programs in both residential schools and public schools.
  7. The educational programs and curricula observed in the residential schools were of very high quality and could readily serve as models for public school programs for gifted and talented youth.