The U.S. FIRST program in Washington collaborated with the Education Research and Data Center (ERDC) to conduct an evaluation study by matching their participant records to data contained in ERDC's longitudinal data warehouse, which contains student records from Washington public schools and postsecondary institutions. The purpose of the study was to explore whether FIRST participation had an effect on high school STEM course-taking, college enrollment, and college STEM course taking and major choice.
The conclusions of this study hint that the FIRST program may have a valuable impact on students’ choices to take STEM courses and to pursue STEM majors in college, but it is not possible to reliably draw these conclusions with certainty using the data available. This illustrates how vitally important it is to collect quality data when evaluating program outcomes. We hope and expect that course-taking data and program participation data will continue to improve in the coming years.
Based on the data available, though, it appears that FIRST participants were less likely to be members of at-risk groups, that they took more and higher math and science courses after program participation, and that they were more likely to take STEM credits or choose a STEM major in college.