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This month, we released the richest and most extensive comparable state data on STEM learning ever assembled. Our 2012 Vital Signs reports paint a wide-ranging and in-depth picture of the condition of STEM learning in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Vital Signs embodies our belief that the more we know about the strengths and weaknesses of STEM education in every state, the more we can do to accelerate STEM learning.
The CEOs of Change the Equation’s more than 100-member business coalition know all too well that many STEM jobs are going unfilled. At a time when the unemployed far outnumber job opportunities in most states, job openings nationwide in STEM fields outnumber the unemployed in STEM fields two to one.
Vital Signs provides data—some of them never before available—that help us understand the disconnect between the numbers of job openings and qualified applicants. For example, students are spending less time learning science in many states; most states set a very low standard of proficiency in science; and many students don’t even have access to rigorous STEM courses, such as calculus and physics, or to highly qualified teachers and adequate instructional materials, such as well-equipped science labs. Is it any wonder that many students leave high school without being inspired by the wonder of a career that is grounded in science?
In the 2012 Vital Signs we also learned that states pay an enormous price—often, millions of dollars—when students don’t learn STEM subjects. That’s the cost of educating students twice on the same content—once in K–12 and again in remedial public education after high school. Sixteen states, however, were unable to supply this critical information about the cost of remediation – and that is telling, too. How can a school system judge its own effectiveness without knowing whether a high school degree prepares students for post-secondary education? It’s critical, if we are to move forward, that this information be readily available and publicly reported.
Another issue of concern is the squandering of the STEM potential of minorities and girls, which the Vital Signs data clearly shows. Given their numbers among school and especially post-secondary student populations, this is remarkably short-sighted. Unequal opportunities to learn STEM content in the K–12 years leaves too many students without viable pathways to expertise in STEM fields.
But there are bright spots in the data as well. Many states are strategically working to implement Common Core State Standards in mathematics (or standards as rigorous) and nearly half are supporting the development of Next Generation Science Standards. These more rigorous standards have the potential to be a game-changer. Some states are making real gains in student performance on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, or bucking trends by preserving or increasing time for science learning. Vital Signs recognizes state efforts and offers specific recommendations to accelerate their work with improved state policies, practices, and STEM learning.
What’s most exciting about Vital Signs is its potential to help state leaders make wise decisions. With about 50 indicators per state, there are essentially 51 different, detailed stories—one for each state and the District of Columbia. To be sure, there are some common themes; no state has closed achievement gaps, for example. But advocates in each state are now uniquely positioned to access data pertinent to their own agenda to improve STEM learning.
We have armed the business community and STEM advocates with critical information to inform state advocacy and philanthropy for STEM learning. Over the next year, we will continue to activate our coalition and bolster state’s activities while pushing for better, and stronger, STEM learning standards. It’s time to do what’s right, not just what’s expedient, to improve STEM learning for all of our nation’s students.
Linda P. Rosen
Change the Equation
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At Bayer, we believe science improves people’s lives— so much so, in fact, that our company’s mission is “Bayer: Science For A Better Life.”
I’m a scientist by training. So is Bayer’s global CEO. And so are many of our colleagues.
We know the success of our company rests with a STEM workforce that can invent essential products that help diagnose, prevent and treat diseases; protect crops and enhance yields; and advance automobile safety and durability.
We also understand that when it comes to cultivating a robust talent pool of well-trained, diverse and motivated scientists and engineers, we have responsibility to both advocate and educate.
Through our Making Science Make Sense® (MSMS) program and its Bayer Facts of Science Education surveys, STEM diversity forums, business–education partnership resource materials and, of course, our work with Change the Equation, we’re advocating at the national, state, regional and local levels for higher education standards that are common across all 50 states, as well as improved STEM education for all of the nation’s students, including girls, African Americans, Hispanics and American Indians who for so long have been underrepresented in U.S. STEM fields.
Through MSMS we also get to act.
We believe it’s critical to lay the foundation for future STEM learning as early as possible. That’s why we’ve helped spearhead elementary science education reform programs in communities where we have local sites. In Pittsburgh, our twin focus of advocating and educating has led to one of those programs—ASSET (Achieving Student Success through Excellence in Teaching)—becoming the official K–5 science education program in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. In Kansas City, the very similar SySTEMic Innovations program works with local, state and regional officials to create an environment of innovation, critical thinking and problem solving for K–8 students and their teachers.
At the high school level, our focus on providing students with real-world STEM opportunities not only prepares them for further study in college, but it can create trained technicians who are workforce-ready upon graduation. That’s what Biotech Partners is all about. An innovative school-to-work program we created with the City of Berkeley nearly 20 years ago, Biotech Partners targets at-risk high school students and, through a combination of classroom studies, intensive lab practice and paid mentored internships, prepares them for careers in the region’s bioscience industries.
It’s a nationally recognized, award-winning model of a government–education–private-sector partnership that works. Just ask the roughly 2,000 students who have benefitted from the program.
Now comes a new opportunity for us to further advocate for Biotech Partners, ASSET, SySTEMic Innovations and other best-practice STEM education programs. The new Institute for STEM Education at California State University’s East Bay campus, established last year with support from the Bayer USA Foundation, is a regional hub that is coordinating efforts to build on and expand these and other programs in the San Francisco Bay Area and throughout the state.
The Institute begins its work at an especially exciting time. And Bayer is right there to help it advocate and educate—for science, for a better life.
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At MITRE, ‘Random Acts of STEM’—and Employee Passion—Make Up for Limits on Philanthropic Spending
As a not-for-profit organization, The MITRE Corporation is limited in the amount of dollars it can spend on philanthropy. But the company is proving that there are other terrific ways to inspire STEM learning.
Given the nature of MITRE’s work for defense, homeland security, aviation and other national interests, it can only hire U.S. citizens in many areas of the company. Yet the number of U.S. students majoring in STEM fields is not expected to satisfy industry needs. For example, the ratio of domestic to international graduate students is becoming skewed in favor of international students. “This is disconcerting for us, since nearly 70 percent of our employees hold advanced degrees,” says Karen Quinn-Quintin, vice president and chief human resources officer at MITRE. “We need to encourage an increase in the number of students in STEM fields, particularly for women and other minorities.”
MITRE employees take a personal—and passionate—interest in sparking STEM interest in the next generation of STEM talent at every educational level, Quinn-Quintin says. The company grants employees paid civic time to teach, mentor and support STEM learning, as exemplified by these signature programs:
These kinds of experiences give students and teachers a window into the “diversity of thought that’s needed in today’s complex systems,” says MITRE’s Bruce Johnson, chief engineer for technology in MITRE’s National Security Engineering Center’s Command and Control Center.
Now, MITRE is developing a strategic framework for what Quinn-Quintin calls the “random acts of STEM” by employees. Already, MITRE leaders serve on STEM councils in states in which MITRE has a presence, advocating for and helping to execute statewide STEM education initiatives. And the company has developed an online community of practice and workshops that enable employees to connect and share best practices for STEM volunteerism. Now, MITRE is setting its sights on developing metrics to measure the impact of its STEM programs and exploring partnerships with well-endowed organizations that could help MITRE and other not-for-profits leverage employee passion and expertise.
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Vital Signs: Missed Opportunity
Half the nation's high schools don't offer calculus, and nearly four in 10 don't offer physics. Find out more about the state of STEM in the 2012 Vital Signs. Read more
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September marks CTEq’s second anniversary! We’re proud of our accomplishments over the past two years, yet mindful that the movement is just a beginning and we have a long way to go to improve STEM learning. Now’s the time to nominate candidates of exemplary STEM programs for the CTEq STEMworks Database.
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Two years ago, 100 companies signed on to CTEq’s ambitious goals of improving philanthropy, advocating change, and inspiring youth in STEM learning. Since then, we’ve launched two rounds of Vital Signs reports and our STEMworks database, and look forward to launching our interactive iON Future game for youth this fall. But we’ve only just begun.
In our first two years, we’ve laid a remarkable foundation for these goals. But, now, the really hard work begins. As we look ahead into 2013 and beyond, we aim to:
Later this fall we are launching iON Future, a suite of free online learning games where middle- to early-high school-age youth explore the vast career possibilities in STEM, and match their interests with different career pathways in STEM.
We have an extraordinary task before us as we work to fulfill these goals, and we hope that you will be there with us, helping advance our agenda into 2013 and beyond.
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Tell us about effective programs for STEMworks. In July, we launched the first phase of STEMworks, an online, searchable database of high-quality, effective STEM programs. From 40 programs nominated, 20 met the high bar we set for inclusion in the database. The second round of submissions is currently being considered, and we want you to nominate more programs for consideration. Only programs that perform well against CTEq’s Design Principles for Effective STEM Philanthropy and accompanying Rubric make the cut for inclusion in the STEMworks database.
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CA Technologies made an unprecedented donation to support STEM education in New York City. Thermo Fisher Scientific launched a STEM Ambassador Program to mentor Advance Placement classes in underprivileged communities.
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CA Technologies Grant Wires New York City Students for Success. CTEq member company CA Technologies donated $1.2 million to PENCIL, a nonprofit organization that inspires innovation and improves student achievement by partnering business leaders with public schools. The gift is the largest in the company’s 17-year history, following up on the nearly $1 million CA Technologies has contributed PENCIL over the past six years.
The funding will go toward PENCIL’s Wired for Success program, which provides funding for its Partnership Program. The Partnership Program builds and supports customized relationships between business leaders and principals to inspire innovation and transform public schools. “Through grants, internships, and other efforts, partnerships like ours positively influence and empower resource-constrained schools, help improve STEM learning for young people and develop future leaders in the IT industry,” said Bill McCracken, CEO at CA Technologies.
The program has already helped thousands of business and school leaders develop unique, school-based collaborations that have a lasting impact on school leaders, students, school communities, and school cultures. Nearly 400 partnerships are currently at work receiving a multi-tiered support structure—including one-on-one assistance, workshops and trainings, and support materials. In addition to New York City, the program is operating in Baltimore, Philadelphia, and Rochester.
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STEM Ambassador Program. Research indicates that students who participate in Advanced Placement (AP) coursework and exams increase their chances of success in school and life. CTEq member company Thermo Fisher Scientific this month launched a STEM Ambassador Program that will support AP students in underprivileged schools in Massachusetts as they work toward that success.
The six mentors—Brad Forringer, Erica Hirsch, Lauren Lee, Kevin McCullough, Molly Regennitter, and Breanne Wagner—are all young Thermo Fisher professionals who participated in AP coursework in high school. Each of them will partner with a local school and mentor a class throughout the school year. During their visits, they’ll address a range of topics, including the importance of AP courses for both college and career preparation, and their personal journeys toward their current roles at Thermo Fisher.
The program is part of a new Student Partners Program of the Massachusetts Math and Science Initiative (MMSI). Led by Mass Insight Education, MMSI is the state’s largest program dedicated to closing achievement gaps for underserved students. The organization is committed to increasing student participation and performance in AP math, science, and English courses and promoting success in college and professional careers.
Last summer, for the second consecutive year, Thermo Fisher was the primary sponsor of MMSI’s Annual Advanced Placement Summer Institute for teachers. Nearly 400 high school teachers from across the state participated in a five-day training program designed to help them inspire more students to enroll—and excel—in AP classes.
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“When President Obama helped launch Change the Equation, he pointed to the critical role the business community can play in improving STEM education. I applaud this coalition of over 100 CEOs for producing this Vital Signs report, which gives business leaders, parents and others a 51-state snapshot of the progress being made and work yet to be done to engage our students with rigorous math and science courses, access to hands-on projects and excellent STEM teachers.”
— John P. Holdren, President Obama’s science and technology advisor