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Arkansas Governor Announces $2.7 Million STEM Education Pilot Program

August 17, 2011

Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe and the state's Workforce Cabinet announced a $2.7 million pilot program — STEM Works — focused on Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education in high schools. STEM Works will be made up of two components. The first component will focus on overhauling the state's STEM curriculum at the high school level to better prepare high school graduates to pursue college degrees in STEM disciplines. The second component — UTeach — will attempt to attract qualified college graduates to become STEM educators.

During the pilot stage, schools from across the state will be encouraged to adopt a STEM curriculum made up of components from two national STEM education initiatives. Participating school districts will create New Tech High Schools, a component of the New Tech Network model — a nonprofit organization that works with schools, districts and communities to implement an interactive STEM education model. The program also will support the implementation of Relevant Education for Active Learning (REAL) Schools, a component of the Environmental and Spatial Technology (EAST) schools model — a national educational initiative focused on student-driven service projects using the latest in technology.

The goal of the program is to have 10 high schools signed up by January 2012 with implementation of the model for the 2012-2013 school year. Long term, state officials hope that within a decade, half the state's high schools will transition their STEM curriculums to this model.

UTeach, the second component of STEM Works, will focus on recruiting college students majoring in STEM fields to become high school educators in their field. Starting in fall 2012, five universities (i.e., Arkansas State University, Arkansas Tech University, the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville and the University of Central Arkansas) with the state will offer the UTeach program on their campuses.

The long term goal of STEM Works is to develop a highly skilled workforce that will be able to meet the escalating demand for employees in high-tech fields. Beebe believes the initiative will allow the state to attract and retain high-tech companies and well-paying careers associated with those industries. Read the press release...

Arkansasstem, k-12, higher ed