How do students experience choice? Exploring STEM course-offerings and course-taking patterns in Texas charter and non-charter public schools

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Abstract

Charter schools are positioned by proponents as a key component of reform efforts striving to expand school choice. Proponents argue that charter schools have the flexibility to experiment with novel curricular and instructional models outside the constraints of the traditional public education system, and therefore have the potential to transform students’ experiences. Influential reports over the last three decades have highlighted the need to improve students’ preparation in STEM, and charter schools have emerged as a reform with the potential to do so. This work uses methods from social network analysis and logistic regression to investigate how course-taking patterns in Texas charter and non-charter schools either promote or constrain student engagement within the STEM disciplines by: 1) exploring STEM course offerings in Texas charter and non-charter public secondary schools; and 2) identifying students’ STEM course-taking patterns in these schools. Findings suggest charter schools are less likely than non-charter public schools to offer STEM courses tailored for special education students and that charter school students’ course-taking patterns tend to be either slightly more advanced or more basic than the course-taking patterns of students in non-charter schools. In addition, students in charter schools tend to be more mobile (e.g., transfer between schools) than students in non-charter public schools.

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How to Cite
David, B. G., Marder, M., Marshall, J., & González-Howard, M. (2020). How do students experience choice? Exploring STEM course-offerings and course-taking patterns in Texas charter and non-charter public schools. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 28, 123. https://doi.org/10.14507/epaa.28.4484
Section
Researching 21st Century Education Policy Through Social Network Analysis
Author Biographies

Bernard G. David, The University of Texas at Austin

Bernard David is a doctoral candidate in STEM Education at The University of Texas at Austin, where he researches the effects of market-based education reforms upon student outcomes in STEM disciplines. Prior to graduate study, Bernard taught physics in Washington, D.C.

Michael Marder, The University of Texas at Austin

Michael Marder is Professor of Physics and Codirector of UTeach at The University of Texas at Austin. His interest in studying educational data stemmed from over 20 years of work preparing STEM teachers at UT Austin and dozens of other universities.

Jill Marshall, The University of Texas at Austin

Dr. Jill A Marshall is an Associate Professor of STEM Education at The University of Texas at Austin. She studies how people come to understand and engineer the physical world and how teachers can facilitate that process, as well as equity issues in STEM education. She is Co-Director of the UTeach Natural Sciences teacher certification program and Past President of the American Association of Physics Teachers.

María González-Howard, The University of Texas at Austin STEM Education

María González-Howard, PhD, is an Assistant Professor of STEM Education at The University of Texas at Austin. Her research explores the intersections of teaching and learning science with multilingualism development. Specifically, Dr. González-Howard investigates teaching practices, and ways to foster learning environments, to best support multilingual students’ scientific sensemaking, as seen through their engagement in science practices.