Over the last several years, numerous reports and external organizations have validated Project Lead The Way’s success in engaging the hearts and minds of students through science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education. We are proud to highlight several of the most recent studies and honors.
Research and Results
Among other significant findings, independent research studies reveal that PLTW students outperform their peers in school, are better prepared for post-secondary studies, and are more likely to consider careers as scientists, technology experts, engineers, mathematicians, healthcare providers, and researchers compared to their non-PLTW peers.
Researchers at the Center for Urban and Multicultural Education at the Indiana University School of Education at Indiana University-Purdue University-Indianapolis analyzed data for more than 56,000 Indiana high school graduates. Major findings:
- High school graduates who participated in PLTW were nearly three times as likely to major in STEM, and 3 to 4 times more likely to study engineering, versus non-PLTW graduates.
- Students who took three or more PLTW courses while in high school were six times more likely to study STEM, and eight times more likely to study engineering, in college than their peers who had not taken PLTW while in high school.
- PLTW participation was significantly related to persistence into the second year of college, especially for those students who had taken three or more PLTW courses.
Pike, Gary and Kirsten Robbins (2014). Using Propensity Scores to Evaluate Education Programs. Indiana University-Purdue University-Indianapolis.
A Texas State University researcher collected and analyzed six years of longitudinally-linked student data to compare thousands of PLTW students to their non-PLTW peers. Major findings:
- PLTW enrollment in Texas has increased by over 400% over the last five years - Hispanic by over 500%; females nearly 600%; and low-income students by 650%
- PLTW students are more prepared for and attended Texas higher education institutions at a higher rate
- PLTW students scored higher on the state’s mathematics assessment
- For those students who did not enroll in college, the median wage for PLTW students was 13.6% higher
Van Overschelde, James P. (Spring 2013) Project Lead The Way Students More Prepared For Higher Education. Texas State University. American Journal of Engineering Education, 4(1).
A researcher from the University of Virginia, Dr. Robert Tai, and his team collected and analyzed over 30 research studies and reports on PLTW. Key insights:
- PLTW contributes to a strong, positive impact on mathematics and science achievement
- PLTW has a positive influence on students’ career interest and likelihood to continue their education
- PLTW offers a pathway to prepare and motivate students to enter careers in science and engineering
- A clear strength of the PLTW program is the intensive teacher professional development program
According to a survey of PLTW students at the end of their senior year, 70% indicated that they intend to study engineering, technology, computer science, or another applied science, and 93% intend to pursue at least a two-year or four-year degree after high school.
True Outcomes Analysis of End-of-Course Evaluations for PLTW, 2009.
In addition, many post-secondary institutions across the country actively recruit PLTW students and provide recognition opportunities such as preferred admissions, scholarships, and course credit. Several prestigious engineering universities report high and increasing levels of PLTW student enrollment. For example:
- 60% of the 2013 incoming freshman class at the University of South Carolina College of Engineering and Computing took PLTW in high school.
- PLTW alumni account for over 35% of the students who were admitted in 2014 to the University of Minnesota’s College of Engineering.
- 47% of the Milwaukee School of Engineering’s 2014 freshman class previously took PLTW courses.
Recent Honors and Recognitions
- In November 2015, the Silicon Valley Education Foundation presented PLTW with its STEM Innovation Award, given to honor organizations and programs that inspire students and teachers and whose work leads the way in advancing STEM education across the nation.
- In January 2014, PLTW was accepted as a 100Kin10 partner. As a partner, PLTW will train 27,602 teachers by 2018 to teach interdisciplinary STEM courses, with typical teachers seeking certification in two or more courses.
- In October 2013, Change the Equation selected PLTW as one of four high-quality STEM programs in the U.S.—and the only in-school curriculum provider—ready for significant national scale-up.
- The Social Impact Exchange placed PLTW on the S&I 100 Index in 2012 as one of the top 100 high-impact nonprofits in the United States.
- The PLTW Gateway program was selected as one of nine Iowa STEM Scale-Up Programs by the Iowa Governor’s STEM Council for 2013–2014.
- PLTW was one of seven programs to receive the @Scale endorsement from the Massachusetts Governor’s STEM Advisory Council.