Level Up Learning Lab: STEAM Education for Low-income Schools




Horn, Caleb Bradley

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The United States public education system is deeply segregated and unevenly balanced between socioeconomic classes and race. America’s poor and minority students have much lower achievement levels than their affluent peers, especially when compared to other countries around the world. Minority students routinely populate the lowest performing schools in the nation. Racial inequality is visible in graduation rates as well with far fewer minority students receiving a high school diploma than their Caucasian peers. This paper investigates the causes behind educational inequality in America. Schools found in these low-income areas typically lack the resources and experienced faculty needed to teach advanced courses in science, technology, and other fields. At the same time, most of these underperforming schools have eliminated the visual and performing arts in order to focus on core subjects like reading and math. It has been proven repeatedly that the arts are a cost-efficient means of increasing student engagement and achievement levels in many subjects. This thesis proposes a delivery system that brings art education and advanced subjects such as technology and engineering to low-income areas. It devises a cost efficient supplemental education model that is capable of delivering sustainable science, technology, engineering, art, and math (STEAM) education in low-income areas. The overall goal is to reduce the achievement gap that is currently found between low-income and affluent schools by providing resources to those areas where they are needed the most. This project is based on immersive research with community stakeholders and an extensive literature review of the current state of American public education. It investigates the causes behind educational inequality, offers an analysis of the current data, and describes the best possible local solution to this national crisis.



Level Up, Learning Lab, STEAM, Education, Low-income, Schools, Public education, Education crisis, Social design, STEM, Art, Design, Inequality, Achievement gap, Dropout factories


Horn, C. B. (2016). <i>Level up learning lab: STEAM education for low-income schools</i> (Unpublished thesis). Texas State University, San Marcos, Texas.


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