STEM Beats - STEMworks

Six STEMworks Programs Receive a Major Endorsement in Indiana

October 13, 2016

Indiana’s I-STEM Resource Center is recommending six different science curricula in STEMworks as districts across the state gear up to adopt new curricular materials for science in 2017. A partnership of leaders in K-12 education, government, business, and universities, I-STEM worked with CTEq to identify programs that met our rigorous STEMworks criteria as well as exacting standards for science curriculum developed by I-STEM and the Purdue School of Engineering Education.

These aren’t your grandfather’s science curricula. Each engages students in hands-on, real-world experiences of science, engineering, and technology:

As districts adopt curriculum, these recommendations could carry substantial weight. Dozens of curriculum providers start knocking on district leaders’ doors when adoption time rolls around. CTEq and I-STEM are helping them separate the wheat from the chaff.

The partnership between CTEq and I-STEM represents a critical strategy to improve the quality of STEM education, one that we are pursuing in five other states and counting.

Tags: STEMworks

New hope for School and District Leaders in Search of Truly Effective Programs

September 27, 2016

School superintendents and principals get swamped by pitches from people selling curriculum, technology, professional development programs, and any number of other solutions to their schools’ challenges. Many don’t have the background to separate the wheat from the chaff. After all, they’re not education researchers. Often, educators have to go for the best-looking brochure, and so their students don’t really benefit from the growing body of research about what is mostly likely to work in schools.

Fortunately, there is some work afoot to help superintendents and principals select the best options for their students. The U.S. Education Department recently released guidance on what evidence educators should look for as they look for programs and strategies to improve students’ performance. The Department is also revamping its What Works Clearinghouse of school research to help district and school leaders find vetted programs that might address their specific priorities.

At least one school district is taking it up a notch. At Education Week, blogger Sarah Sparks takes a look at the Cleveland Metropolitan School District’s plans to (among other things) “build a dashboard to allow principals to easily monitor how well initiatives or programs are working in their schools.” “In the process,” Sparks reports:

the dashboard will help schools easily collect and report data to understand how various factors—changes to the school calendar, differences in grade-spans at different schools, and the percentage of students with an individualized education plan, among others—affect student achievement.

If this strategy works, Cleveland could create a rich store of evidence for what works in Cleveland while helping school principals make much better informed choices.

Of course, we would be remiss if we didn’t point to our own STEMworks honor roll of effective programs. Third-party reviewers have carefully vetted each STEMworks program for effectiveness and readiness to scale to other places, among other factors. States like Iowa and Michigan are currently turning to STEMworks for this very reason as they consider how to allocate some of their state education funding. 

It's one thing to go through a stack of glossy program brochures. It's another thing entirely to seek actual evidence of what works.

Tags: STEMworks

Apply Now for New STEM Scale-Up Grants in Iowa

September 1, 2016

If you run a STEM program that could benefit children and youth in the great state of Iowa, then be sure to throw your hat in the ring for the sixth annual Iowa Governor's STEM Advisory Council Scale-Up Program! For the third year running, the Council is using CTEq's STEMworks to vet programs for state funding.

Last year, upwards of $3 million went to schools across the state, reaching more than 100,000 Iowa students with some of the nation's best STEM education programs. The results have been impressive. On the Iowa tests, these students outscored peers who did not participate in Scale-Up programs. On average, they scored seven percentage points higher in math and 6 points higher in science.*

Update: Read the Council's Press Release.

Tags: STEMworks

Idaho Uses STEMworks to Fund STEM Professional Development

August 23, 2016

Does your program offer professional development for STEM teachers? Are you ready to help teachers in Idaho? If so, the Idaho STEM Action Center might have a grant for you.

The Idaho STEM Action Center is the latest partner in our efforts to help states identify and expand the nation's best STEM education programs. It will join leading STEM organizations in states like Colorado, Indiana, Iowa and Michigan in using CTEq's rigorous STEMworks review process to find programs that are most likely to make a difference for America's youth.

As states gain more control over their education policies and purse strings, STEMworks helps them make the best decisions for their young people.

Here is the text of the Idaho announcement:

Idaho STEM Action Center announces grants for professional development programs

Change the Equation (CTEq) and the Idaho STEM Action Center are collaborating on an initiative to identify excellent teacher professional development programs in STEM. The STEM Action Center will recommend programs identified through this process for state professional development funds. Programs may apply for up to two years of funding: $75,000 in the first year and $50,000 in the second.

Apply before 3pm Mountain Time on October 4, 2016.

Programs must apply through CTEq’s STEMworks application portal. Reviewers will judge applications against Change the Equation’s rigorous Design Principles for effectiveness as well as additional state-specific criteria to assess programs’ readiness to address needs specific to Idaho.

Programs that meet the Design Principles will appear in CTEq’s nationally-recognized STEMworks honor roll of effective STEM education programs. Businesses leaders, funders, and STEM advocates regularly tap the STEMworks database for high-quality STEM programs most likely to help maximize their impact on STEM education.

Programs that meet both the STEMworks threshold and Idaho’s state-specific requirements will be considered for state funding

Register for an Informational Webinar [link pending] on STEMworks and the Application Process

On September 2 at 2:00 Mountain Time, CTEq and the Idaho STEM Action Center will host a free one-hour webinar to introduce prospective applicants to the application process.

Visit the STEMworks website to read about the individual STEMworks programs included and more about the database itself.

Tags: STEMworks, teachers

Colorado Partners Bring New Programs into STEMworks

July 25, 2016

Congratulations to five STEM education programs that have distinguished themselves as among the best programs serving Colorado's children and youth! Colorado Technology Association (CTA) and Colorado Education Initiative (CEI) used our rigorous STEMworks application and review process to identify two new programs for STEMworks and strengthen the standing of two others.

A group of intrepid volunteer reviewers convened by CTA, the Colorado Manufacturing Alliance, and Colorado BioScience Association spent many hours reviewing applications vying to be in STEMworks. The select few that made it over the bar include:

  • Adams 12 Five Star STEM Schools & STEMinspired (Added to the Colorado STEMworks database as Promising) – Created by the Adams 12 school district in northern Denver, this initiative focuses on problem solving and critical thinking, Connects with Industry and higher educational partners to create truly relevant mentorship and professional development opportunities, and infuses STEM in all grade levels and disciplines, from Kindergarten to AP Physics in high school, from music and drama to art and PE.
  • Open World Learning (Added to the Colorado STEMworks database as Accomplished) - OpenWorld Learning provides Title I, 3rd – 8th graders a fun and challenging after-school educational program centered on teaching advanced computer technology to Denver area students:  
  • KidsTek (Advanced from Promising to Accomplished) - KidsTek is dedicated to increasing the technology literacy of Colorado’s underserved K-12 students through project-based, after-school technology education programs in K-8 schools and in-school technical certification programs that provide college credit in high schools. 
  • SEPUP (Advanced from Promising to Accomplished) - The Science Education for Public Understanding Program (SEPUP) develops comprehensive and supplemental science curriculum materials and resources targeted at diverse student populations in grades 5-12. 

In addition, our Colorado partners added STEMworks veteran program ST Math to the list of STEMworks programs they plan to promote within the state. Spatial and Temporal (ST) Math uses innovative technology to teach math concepts, problem solving techniques, and critical thinking skills to elementary school children. Schools that fully implement ST Math see double, and even triple, the growth in math proficiency when measured against comparable schools.

Every Colorado student deserves access to the nation's best STEM education programs. Thanks to our Colorado partners, STEMworks is now an even more critical resource for funders and other STEM champions who want to realize that vision.

Tags: STEMworks