This study examined changes in math and science achievement across four treatment groups over five years. Treatment groups consisted of students who received problem-based learning (PBL) units on math and science, students who received PBL units plus attended a one-day-a-week magnet school, students who received PBL units but stayed behind while classmates attended the magnet school, and a control group. Participants consisted of 258 students who were tracked for four or five years from six elementary schools participating in Project GEMS.
Analyses were conducted on three cohorts: 2012-2013 5th and 7th graders with four years of data; 2012-2013 6th graders with five years of data.
The positive impact of the magnet program was most evident for science. Students who attended a one-day-a-week magnet school had the most significant gains across all three cohorts. Students who received PBL units but stayed behind while classmates attended the magnet school and those who just received PBL units also exhibited strong gains compared to the control groups.
Results for math indicated that for two cohorts (6th & 7th), students who attended a one-day-a-week magnet school had the most significant gains. In general, math scores significantly improved across all four groups over the course of the study. Hypotheses to explain observed findings, weaknesses of the study, and suggestions for future research will be discussed.