Evaluation of Project Lead the Way (PLTW): the Rollout and Postsecondary Attendance Patterns Among Program Participants

OCTOBER 28, 2021 | 10:30-11:00

Presented By:

Eric Camburn, Takako Nomi, Michael Podgursky

Session Description:

Project Lead The Way (PLTW) is a STEM career technical education program offered across the nation. Missouri first introduced PLTW in 2005, and the program has rapidly expanded over the last 15 years. PLTW is composed of three pathways of study – Biomedical Sciences, Engineering, and Computer Science – and the goal is to equip students with skills for college and careers in STEM by engaging students in hands-on learning.  To understand the implementation and students’ outcomes associated with PLTW, a team of researchers at UM-Kansas City, UM-Columbia, and Saint Louis University has conducted an initial evaluation. The presentation consists of three parts: Part 1 discusses how PLTW expanded across Missouri from 2005 to 2020, what school characteristics are associated with whether schools have adopted PLTW, and what student characteristics are associated with whether students enroll in PLTW courses. We show that PLTW participating schools are more racially diverse, larger in size, and serve fewer students on Free/Reduced Lunch (FRL) than non-participating schools, but they are similar in students’ average 8th-grade MAP scores. Students who took PLTW courses have higher MAP scores than non-participants and are less likely to be minority students or receive FRL. Also, female students tend to choose Biomedical Sciences, while Engineering is more popular for males. Part 2 discusses high school graduation and initial post-secondary outcomes (college enrollment and STEM major) of PLTW participants as compared to the outcomes non-PLTW participants. We find that PLTW participants have higher rate of high school graduation, college enrollment, and STEM majors than non-participants who are similar in MAP scores and other student characteristics (FRL, gender, race/ethnicity) as well as school characteristics. Importantly, minority students benefited more from PLTW. Part 3 discusses implications for Career and Technical Education policy, plans future research, and the value-of longitudinal K-12 to workforce data.

Video & Transcript:

Eric Camburne

Sherman Family Foundation Endowed Chair

Director, Urban Education Research Center

Takako Nomi

Associate Professor, Sinquefield Center for Applied Economic Research

Michael Podgursky


Sinquefield Center for Applied Economic Research