The impact of the health science academy at Big Sky High School affect student achievement and preparedness for college

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Montana State University - Bozeman, Graduate School


The Health Science Career Academy at Big Sky High School was launched in the fall of 2012 and is currently serving 240 students. At the time of implementation, 50% of Big Sky High School graduates were not pursuing post-secondary education. More than 40% of students at Big Sky High School receive free and reduced lunch benefits meaning they are in an economic situation which commonly leads to low achievement and low post-secondary expectations. A thematic course of study, focused on health science, small learning community and exposure to industry professions and professionals provides a unique educational model designed to engage students, and provide them with the interpersonal support and academic foundation necessary for achieving professional success. Federally mandated standardized test scores, ACT scores, survey responses, grade point average, and free and reduced lunch status, of academy students, were compared to a control group, of non-academy students, in an effort to determine whether the Health Science Academy is improving student achievement and preparedness for college. The Health Science Academy appeared to be serving a population of students with abnormally low risk of academic failure. The impacts on academic achievement was inconclusive but impacts on student attitude appeared to be positive as were impacts on preparedness for college.




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