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The Consequences Of Canceling Physics: An Initial Study In An At Risk Urban High School

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2006 Annual Conference & Exposition


Chicago, Illinois

Publication Date

June 18, 2006

Start Date

June 18, 2006

End Date

June 21, 2006



Conference Session

Ensuring Access to K - 12 Engineering Programs

Tagged Division

K-12 & Pre-College Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

11.1264.1 - 11.1264.12



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Paper Authors


Benita Comeau Georgia Institute of Technology

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Benita M. Comeau is a Ph.D. candidate in the school of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology. Benita received her B.S.E. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Benita is a STEP Fellow in the Georgia Tech NSF GK-12 program.

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Marion Usselman Georgia Institute of Technology

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Dr. Marion C. Usselman is a Senior Research Scientist at the Center for Education Integrating Science, Mathematics and Computing (CEISMC) at the Georgia Institute of Technology. Marion received her Ph.D. in biophysics from Johns Hopkins University and has taught in the Biology Department at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte. She focuses on equity issues in education and K-12 educational reform. Marion is co-PI of the STEP NSF grant.

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Donna Llewellyn Georgia Institute of Technology

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Dr. Donna C. Llewellyn is the Director of the Center for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning at the Georgia Institute of Technolgy. Donna received her doctorate from Cornell University in Operations Research and spent ten years on the faculty in Industrial and Systems Engineering at Georgia Tech. Her primary research interests now are in the educational domain, specifically improving access and equity in STEM disciplines for underrepresented groups. Donna is the PI of the NSF GK-12 grant, STEP.

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Michael Pastirik

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Michael A. Pastirik has been a high school science teacher for twenty-five years in both the public and private sector. His current assignment is teaching high school physics, Advanced Placement chemistry, and physical science. In addition, he has been a science writer for Turner/CNN and a daily newspaper. Michael received his M.Ed from Georgia State University and is currently attached to a NSF research team studying atmospheric gases in Antarctica.

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Consequences of Course Cancellation: An Initial Study in an At Risk Urban High School 1. Introduction

The importance of an equitable education for all Americans is evident to most citizens and has been demonstrated and examined by many researchers1. As technology continues to advance and becomes more important in the widening global economy, the need for well educated individuals to participate in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields increases. According to the findings of a National Science Foundation (NSF) committee, there are not enough highly trained Americans to meet this growing demand2. However, the committee recognized that one way to meet the growing need for people trained in the STEM areas is to increase the number of minorities in the STEM fields. If underrepresented minorities participated in the STEM fields at numbers equal to their portion of the population (i.e. were no longer underrepresented), the number of Americans in the STEM fields would approach the growing need.

The NSF is addressing this need for increasing the number of minorities entering the STEM fields by funding numerous grants and projects. The authors are involved with one such program, the NSF GK-12. The NSF GK-12 program provides support for institutions of higher education to place STEM graduate and undergraduate students into K-12 classrooms for ten hours per week. The tasks in which GK-12 Fellows (the university students) are engaged within the K-12 schools often represent variations on activities and educational objectives in which teachers are already engaged. Fellows may introduce new pedagogical techniques, new curricula, new technologies, and/or extend the educational outreach to targeted groups of students. The primary author is a graduate student Fellow working at the Georgia high school under study, and it should be noted that the observations and data collected have been done while in the NSF GK-12 program.

The federal government has also implemented the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) legislation to address equity in education in all areas of K-12 study. This law requires all states to establish statewide testing systems and academic standards which meet the federal requirements. A key component of NCLB is Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP). AYP measures year-to-year changes in student participation and achievement on the statewide tests and other academic indicators. Ever year the AYP objective is increased, so that all students will be required to pass the statewide tests by the year 2014. If AYP is not met, the school will suffer penalties under the NCLB legislation. A school will enter the “In Need of Improvement” plan after two consecutive years of failing to meet the AYP. The “In Need of Improvement” plan is clearly documented on the Georgia Department of Education website, and lists consequences for ten years of consequences in the “In Need of Improvement” plan3. The table below highlights consequences for the first five failing years. A school exits the “In Need of Improvement” program when it meets AYP two out of three years.

Comeau, B., & Usselman, M., & Llewellyn, D., & Pastirik, M. (2006, June), The Consequences Of Canceling Physics: An Initial Study In An At Risk Urban High School Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--837

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