Massachusetts Project Lead The Way Initiative

Mass STEM Hub supports schools’ adoption and implementation of Project Lead The Way (PLTW). PLTW is a premier STEM curriculum and professional development provider and with a proven ability to dramatically shift classroom practice and improve students’ interest and aptitude in STEM.  PLTW has full K-12 offerings in engineering, computer science, and biomedical science and offers a comprehensive solution for schools (lesson plans, teacher training, and end-of-course assessments). We are partnering with PLTW to grow and expand PLTW programming the state.

At a high level, our goal for the initiative is twofold:

1) Increase the number of students who have access to high-quality STEM programming as part of their regular school day.

2) Offer support to schools to ensure their STEM programs are high-quality. 

The Impact of Applied Learning on Students Achievement & Engagement: First Year Results of Scaling PLTW in Massachusetts

This brief summarizes key findings from Year 1 of the six-year research evaluation. Findings at this stage are preliminary. Taken together, these findings can inform ongoing program implementation as they can provide guidance about the nature of current implementation. In future years, the study will inform implementation factors most important in driving program outcomes.

PLTW Impact for Students

Over 25 evaluations of PLTW’s impact on students and teachers have been completed with the majority finding positive results in both, rural and urban school settings. Most notably, PLTW has been shown to:

Increase student’s interest in STEM

 70% of high school seniors enrolled in PLTW courses intend to study engineering or another applied science in college1

Improve students’ achievement in math & science

PLTW students outscored non-PLTW peers in both math and science by +5 points in math and science, 0.15 standard deviation and 0.05 standard deviation respectively2.

Boost higher education outcomes, especially in STEM

Students who took three or more PLTW engineering courses, had higher persistence rates from the first year of college to the second than those who did not participate in PLTW3.

[1] Tai (2012), “An examination of the research literature on Project Lead the Way”, University of Virginia. [2] Academic Achievement: Schenk et. al (2011), “A Study of the impact of PLTW on achievement outcomes in Iowa”, Iowa Dept of Education; Higher Ed Outcomes
[3] Pike et al. (2014), “Using propensity scores to evaluate education programs”, Indiana Univ.‐Purdue Univ.‐Indianapolis. 

Massachusetts Project Lead The Way Plan

In March of 2017, Project Lead The Way received a grant from the Executive Office of Education in conjunction with the Massachusetts STEM Advisory Council and the Governor’s Workforce Skills Cabinet. Along with funding from the One 8 Foundations, this first-of-its-kind grant will help schools and districts develop high-quality STEM career pathways for students. PLTW, WPI, and Mass STEM Hub are working in close partnership to support these schools and build a network of high-quality STEM programs across the Commonwealth. The statewide plan is designed to deliver value for students and educators by creating a rich ecosystem of students, teachers, industry partners, and the higher education community.  The ecosystem creates over and above opportunities that would be hard for schools to organize individually – student showcases, industry connections, cross-school competition, teacher networking. By providing a common space for hard working passionate teachers to work together, we can ensure the students in Commonwealth have access to the high-quality STEM experiences that they need to be successful in college and 21st century careers.

Mass STEM Hub’s PLTW Programming

While PLTW on its own is a powerful program, Mass STEM Hub provides additional supports and complimentary programming to the network of PLTW schools.  The PLTW curriculum builds STEM skills through explicit connections to real-world problems, driving student interest and at high levels of rigor. Mass STEM Hub supports these connections by:

Recruiting industry partners to provide authentic industry experiences for students and teachers

Mass STEM Hub provides a conduit for schools to interact with industry partners, making this important link for students and teachers that makes the curriculum even more relevant and demystifies STEM careers.

Hosting student competitions and events

Student competitions and events are exciting times for students to celebrate their successes as well as provide an authentic audience for industry professionals to offer feedback on their work.

Watch a Video Recap of Our Boston Children’s Event Day

Connecting students and teachers to build a PLTW community:

Student competitions and events, along with opportunities for teachers to network and share best practices, enrich the learning for students and teachers alike.  We offer annual conferences, teacher coaching, Learning Teams and ongoing PD. Developing model sites for schools and teachers to learn from: Showcasing schools across the Commonwealth provides models for teachers and school leaders to visit and learn from.

How to get involved

Want to start a PLTW program at your school? Visit the PLTW website to learn more.

Reach out to the Mass STEM Hub team if you questions about PLTW programming near you.

Already a PLTW school? – Get involved with Mass STEM Hub today.

Industry professional?  –  Learn more about volunteer opportunities.

What is Project Lead The Way?

Project Lead The Way is a non-profit organization that provides a transformative learning experience for K-12 students and teachers across the U.S. PLTW is a comprehensive solution for schools providing, lesson plans, teacher training, and end-of-course assessments that provide opportunities for students to earn college credit.

What does a PLTW classrooms look like?

Walking into a PLTW classroom you will see students working together to solve problems. PLTW utilizes the activity, project, problem-based (APB) instructional design that provides hands-on, real-world activities, projects, and problems. Activities help students build specific knowledge and skills. Projects provide students the opportunity to apply those skills and problems give student the change to develop their own solutions to real world problems.

How many schools offer PLTW?

Nationally, PLTW is in over 10,500 schools reaching over 2 million students every year. In Massachusetts, there are over 250 schools. Click here to see a map


What does it take to offer a high-quality program?

  • Program vision: a clear-aligned vision that creates pathways for students
  • Passionate teacherA passionate teacher is critical to help curriculum come alive for students.
  • Teacher & leader supportSupport at all levels is necessary for successful programming.
  • TrainingTeachers participate in rigorous core training to provide them with the content knowledge and instructional moves to facilitate world-class PLTW programming.
  • TimePLTW should be built into student schedules in a meaningful way so that all students should have access to PLTW every year

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