DESEGREGATION IN AN ERA OF RESEGREGATION: HOW HETEROGENEOUS SECONDARY SCIENCE CLASSES INCREASE STUDENT ACHIEVEMENT AND ENTRANCE INTO THE STEM PIPELINE
Paushter, Matthew Kalman
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African American students are underrepresented in high-level secondary science courses that preclude them from pursuing post-secondary science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) degrees and careers. A significant factor associated with this problem is the institutionalized organization of secondary curriculum and instruction that disproportionately tracks or groups students of color into lower-level courses. African American students are disproportionately placed into lower-level science courses where they receive an inequitable opportunity to learn. A mixed methods design was used in which both qualitative and quantitative data were embedded within a major design intervention trial to address the negative effects caused by ability grouping in science by measuring the effect of heterogeneous chemistry classes on student achievement, self-efficacy, engagement, and interest in science. Findings revealed that regardless of course recommendation, initial achievement levels, and race, initially lower and higher achieving students enrolled in high-level heterogeneous science classes outperform their peers in traditionally grouped course levels and have higher levels of self-efficacy. Findings suggest that teacher professional development in the areas of differentiated instruction, mindset, and self-efficacy are important factors contributing to the success of students in heterogeneous classes.