Following disheartening National Assessment of Educational Progress marks in 1996, the Alabama State Department of Education (ASDE) introduced a program, the Alabama Math, Science and Technology Initiative (AMSTI) to improve the state’s lagging test scores.
The National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance, part of the Institute of Education Sciences, recently published an evaluation of the effectiveness of the Alabama initiative
The evaluation compared test scores of class groups that had received AMSTI instruction for one year with a control group that did not. Research findings indicated that students that had received AMSTI instruction scored, on average, two points higher on Stanford Achievement Test (SAT-10) mathematic problem solving assessments than students that had not received initiative instruction. Researchers estimate the total “effects” of a full two years of AMSTI instruction to average an increase of 4 percentile points on SAT-10 mathematic problem solving assessments, with AMSTI students having the equivalent of “50 days of additional student progress over students receiving conventional mathematics instruction.”
Similarly, AMSTI students were found to have higher test scores in both reading achievement and science than non-initiative-instructed students. The report finds AMSTI pupils scoring an average of 2 percentile points, roughly the equivalent of 40 additional days of student progress, than students that had received no AMSTI instruction. AMSTI students were found to have achievement in science scores that were almost 5 SAT percentile points higher than their non-initiative-instructed peers. According to the report, AMSTI students are also more likely to report higher levels of “engagement” than students not involved in initiative programs.
Since being introduced in 2002, almost 40 percent of Alabama’s 1,518 schools have implemented the AMSTI program. Alabama State Superintendent Tommy Bice recently praised the initiative, calling it a “premier professional development delivery system” for a litany of educational programs pertaining to mathematics, science and technology.
"Alabama's future is bright as these young minds are challenged to think critically and solve complex problems with no obvious answer -- 21st century skills business and industry are asking of our graduates,” he commented.
The study also involved researchers from Empirical Education, Inc., Abt Associates, Inc., the Academy for Education Development and the University of North Carolina’s SERVE Center.