Status of STEM High Schools and Implications for Practice

E. Jean Gubbins
Merzili Villanueva
Cindy M. Gilson
Jennifer L. Foreman
Micah N. Bruce-Davis
Siamak Vahidi
Carolyn M. Callahan
Colby Tofel-Grehl

As a nation, society benefits from an educated populace. At a time when economic, environmental, social, and security issues are the focus of many conversations in businesses, industries, government offices, schools, and homes, policymakers turn their attention to the further development of human capital. Educators acknowledge that they have key responsibilities to develop the talents and abilities of all students to live in a global community that is increasingly accessible through technological advances. They also want students to become life-long learners who know how to learn and who are motivated to continue learning. How do we, as educators, create dynamic learning opportunities for high school students? How do we address issues related to high school students’ perceptions of learning environments? Student voices may be sources of guidance and reflection as we consider the reported lack of academic challenge in contrast to rhetoric about the importance of offering rigorous curricula. One way to approach involvement with rigorous and engaging curricula is to capitalize on domains of interest. There has been considerable emphasis on developing science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) focused schools at all grade levels. The number of STEM high schools alone has tripled in the last decade (2000-2009). To learn more about current STEM high schools across the country, the United States Department of Education commissioned The National Research Center on the Gifted and Talented (NRC/GT) to design and implement a study of STEM high schools. The University of Connecticut and the University of Virginia collaborated to address the following project objectives: to create a searchable matrix of STEM high schools, to document the common and unique curricular and instructional strategies used in STEM high schools, and to create and disseminate surveys for high school administrators and teachers documenting the curricular and instructional strategies used in high schools.


Gubbins, E. J., Villanueva, M., Gilson, C. M., Foreman, J. L., Bruce-Davis, M. N., Vahidi, S., . . . Tofel-Grehl, C. (2013). Status of STEM high schools and implications for practice. Storrs: University of Connecticut, The National Research Center on the Gifted and Talented.