Study Shows Girlstart After School Students Perform Better Academically Than Peers

Share Article

Demonstrating Positive Effects of Informal Education on Formal Education

Girlstart participants program video games

"I LOVE Girlstart because it encourages girls to become scientists and engineers." 6th grade Girlstart participant

Study Shows Girlstart After School Students Perform Better Academically Than Peers, Demonstrating Positive Effects of Informal Education on Formal Education

In the past year, Girlstart’s STEM education programming for girls have been lauded by Change the Equation (a nonprofit, nonpartisan, CEO-led initiative that is mobilizing the business community to improve the quality of STEM learning in the United States), invited to participate in the U.S. News STEM Solutions conference for its second straight year, and has reached its largest student audience in its history through its DeSTEMber online education program, in partnership with a number of prominent STEM-centric organizations across the nation, including the San Diego Zoo and The Franklin Institute.

Now, Girlstart has published a groundbreaking, externally-verified study showing that a representative sample of its Girlstart After School students from two Austin-area school districts outperformed non-participant peers in 5th STAAR (State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness) math and science testing.

"We've known through observing the success of girls participating in Girlstart programs that they're becoming more invested in math and science, but now have a study showing measurable and quantifiable improvement based on standardized state testing performance," said Tamara Hudgins, Ph.D., executive director of Girlstart. "It demonstrates what we've been able to observe first-hand as we've expanded Girlstart After School to reach more students than ever – this program is working."

Highlights of the study, comparing the math and science test scores of Girlstart participants and non-participants from similar socioeconomic backgrounds, grade level ethnicity, and Limited English Proficiency status, include:

In Spring 2013, 76% of Austin ISD Girlstart After School girls passed the 5th grade science test, versus 41% of comparison group members and 64% of all students (both boys and girls at Girlstart partner schools).

Over a two-year period, 71% of Austin ISD Girlstart girls passed the 5th grade science test, while only 48% of comparison group members (and 62% of all students) passed. In math, 85% of Girlstart girls passed, compared to 70% of comparison group members (and 73% of all students at AISD partner schools).

In 2013, 87% of Girlstart After School girls at Georgetown ISD partner schools passed 5th grade math, compared to 77% of students overall at partner schools. Over a two-year period, 82% of Girlstart girls passed the 5th grade science STAAR, compared to 77% of students overall at GISD partner schools.

In both years, Girlstart girls achieved Commended scores at significantly higher rates than the general school population – important because girls who earn Commended Performance scores in 5th grade can register for advanced or pre-AP math and science courses in middle school without having to test into those courses.
Subsequently, the study found that Girlstart participants are enrolling in advanced and pre-AP math and science, with 1.58 advanced courses per girl, compared to 1.00 per non-participating girl.

This year’s Girlstart After School programs reached more than 1,000 girls in Texas, in 43 partner schools throughout Texas – specifically, in the Austin, Dallas, and San Antonio metro areas and in the Rio Grande Valley.

Previous studies conducted by Girlstart show that its students display extremely high levels of acumen, interest, and confidence with respect to STEM education – with 92 percent pursuing scientific interests outside the classroom, 97 percent planning to attend college after high school (with 55 percent of these set to be first-generation college students), and 95 percent indicating an interest in pursuing a STEM career.


Girlstart, founded in Austin in 1997, is the only community-based informal STEM education nonprofit in the nation specifically dedicated to empowering and equipping girls in STEM, through year-round programming that promotes girls’ early engagement and academic success in STEM, encourages girls' aspirations and persistence in STEM education and careers, and incubates a talented and diverse STEM workforce. Its innovative, nationally-recognized programs include after-school and summer camps for students, professional development for teachers, and community and online STEM education outreach programs.

Girlstart cultivates a culture where risk is rewarded, curiosity is encouraged, and creativity is expected. As a result, Girlstart girls are connected, brave, and resilient. Girlstart makes girls more successful, and inspires them to take on the world’s greatest challenges.

Share article on social media or email:

View article via:

Pdf Print

Contact Author

Phil West
Orange Cone Agency
Email >

Tamara Hudgins, Ph.D.
Email >
Visit website