The impact of the PYP on student performance: Evidence from Michigan and North Carolina (2015)

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Steven W Hemelt—University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

The goal of this study was to evaluate the effects of the International Baccalaureate’s (IB) Primary Years Programme (PYP) on student performance in two states in the United States: Michigan and North Carolina. The researcher used longitudinal administrative data, covering 2005–2006 to 2011–2012, to examine the effects of exposure to the PYP on students’ academic performance in grades 3 and 5 in comparison to their non-PYP counterparts. In Michigan, there is evidence that the PYP moderately boosted third-grade math achievement. The study found no impact on reading scores in third grade. PYP and non-PYP students also performed similarly on math, reading and science achievement in fifth grade in Michigan. The evidence suggested that, in Michigan, the PYP may benefit female, and free and reduced-price lunch (FRL) students more than male and non-FRL students. In North Carolina, the PYP appeared to negatively affect math performance for students in both third and fifth grade. These impacts seem to be driven primarily by negative effects of the PYP on boys’ math achievement. There were no detectable impacts on reading for either third or fifth grade. Lastly, in both Michigan and North Carolina, exposure to the PYP increased the reading performance of economically disadvantaged third-grade students.

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