Can Formal-Informal Collaborations Improve Science Literacy in Urban Middle Schools? The Impact of Urban Advantage
Meryle Weinstein and Emilyn Ruble
IESP Policy Brief #03-11
This brief presents findings from a study on Urban Advantage (UA), a collaboration between the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH), other New York City informal science institutions, and the New York City Department of Education (NYCDOE) to improve the science literacy of NYC public school students. The following analysis draws on a rich longitudinal database, containing student- and school-level data for all NYC public schools and students from 2004-05 to 2009-10. Results indicate that these collaborations can have a positive impact on student achievement and science learning.
- Students at UA schools outperform students at non-UA schools. In 2006-07, the third year of the program, 44.2% of students at UA schools are proficient on the Intermediate Level Science Test (ILS) exam, compared to 40.5% at non-UA schools. In 2008-09, 55.5% of students at UA schools are proficient, compared to 46.2% of students at non-UA schools.
- The magnitude of the difference between students at UA and non-UA schools increases over time. Little change is seen in student performance on ELA or math for eighth-grade students, suggesting the effect is not merely reflecting coincident overall school improvement.
- UA has grown from 35 schools and 63 teachers in 2005 to 174 schools and 386 teachers in 2010 and serves approximately 35% of middle schools and 20% of students in NYC.
- UA schools are similar to other NYC schools serving eighth graders, despite larger enrollments.