Measuring the Efficacy and Student Achievement of Research-based Instructional Materials in High School Multidisciplinary Science

  • Cluster-randomized trial to examine the effectiveness of a multidisciplinary high school science program
  • 18 participating schools in the state of Washington
  • Funding source: U.S. Department of Education, Institute for Educational Sciences

In 2008, BSCS launched a four-year randomized control study that tested the effectiveness of the multi-disciplinary program BSCS Science: An Inquiry Approach. Participating schools were randomly assigned for grade nine students to use the BSCS materials for two years, or to continue for two years with business-as-usual science instruction. The latter group serves as a comparison group. The project includes 11 districts, 18 schools, 64 teachers, and 4,105 high school students. Results were aggregated and compared between the treatment and comparison conditions using annual and longitudinal measures.

The main research questions of the trial were:

  • Do research-based instructional materials in multidisciplinary science increase achievement in science for all students?
  • Does the level of teacher fidelity of implementation affect student achievement?

The main findings were:

  • Students receiving the BSCS science program had higher gains on standardized tests
  • By the end of 10th grade, BSCS students were 4 months ahead of those in the Comparison Group
  • The BSCS program helped teachers use more effective practices

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For more information, please contact BSCS Director of Research & Development Joe Taylor

* This study was supported by the Institute of Education Studies (IES), Grant #R305K060142, U.S. Department of Education. The opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not represent views of the Institute or the U.S. Department of Education.