If it's Tuesday, it must be news roundup day. Here are some essential pieces in STEM education this week.
UTeach Math, Science Program to Expand with $23 Million Grant Ed Week, March 18
UTeach, a collaborative teacher-certification program that works with education schools to train teachers in specific STEM subjects, is about to undergo a massive expansion, courtesy of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. The institution recently awarded the program a $23 million grant, which will allow it to expand to 10 new universities from its current 35. Already the recipient of a Race to the Top award -- and a member of CTEq's STEMWorks Database -- the program enables math and science majors to also earn a teaching certification in four years. And, according to the program, nearly 90 percent of those grads go on to teach, creating a stronger pipeline of STEM-ready teachers.
Math, Reading Gaps by Gender Persist, Ed Week, March 15
While it's old news that girls outperform boys in math and girls return the favor in reading, a new study explores those gender gaps in a little more depth. The results, based on 10 years' of PISA data, were surprising. Worldwide, for instance, the gender gap in reading (where girls have the advantage) was three times that of the math gender gap. In math, the gender gap is most pronounced between the highest scorers: High-achieving boys outperformed high-achieving girls by the greatest margins. In reading, though, this was inverted, meaning the lowest-achieving boys lagged far, far behind even the lowest-achieving girls. And, the study found, the gender gaps in the U.S. were among the greatest in the world.
What's this mean? In the classroom, it means that interventions with high-achieving girls in math and low-achieving boys in reading are most likely to yield a strong bang for the buck. Policymakers should be looking at those groups closely, as well. Both boys and girls need both math and reading to be successful, and persistent gender gaps ultimate hurt both.
Better Colleges Failing to Lure Talented Poor New York Times, March 16
Much of education policy is focused on ensuring that opportunity gaps between rich and poor students are minimized and eliminated, but a new study shows that high-achieving low-income students -- who should theoretically be attending the same selective four-year universities as their wealthier peers -- often instead opt to attend community colleges or less selective four-year schools nearer to home. The trend is more pronounced in small metropolitan and rural areas, and long-term leads to widening income inequality in the U.S. The schools they attend have fewer resources and lower grad rates, perpetuating a cycle of low earnings. These students represent an untapped resource, and the study, one of the broadest conducted, will hopefully create enough waves of change to make a difference for institutions and, most importantly, for students.
Why Do Some Students Struggle With Math? Daniel Willingham, March 18
What makes math hard?