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New Efforts in AZ, TX Take Different Approaches for Increasing STEM Grads

February 29, 2012

With the goal of integrating STEM learning into schools and strengthening teacher effectiveness in STEM areas, Science Foundation Arizona (SFAz) is launching the Arizona STEM Network, which will be implemented over the next five years in school districts throughout the state. In Texas, officials are counting on a new $30 million fund to produce more STEM graduates by recruiting top-notch research faculty to the University of Houston (UH). The Arizona STEM Network builds on Gov. Jan Brewer's plan for STEM education announced in 2010. SFAz will serve as the operational management hub to provide focus, commitment and structure to achieve the goals outlined in the implementation plan. Four strategic concentrations will guide the work of the STEM Network over the next five years. These include: Integrating STEM into schools and districts by working with the governor's office, Department of Education and county superintendents to extend STEM expertise through Regional Education Service Centers. Predictive analysis and measurement of outcomes by developing and deploying performance-based analytics and a technology infrastructure to collect, analyze and disseminate program metrics throughout the network. Strengthening teacher effectiveness by identifying project-based STEM teaching models, engaging teachers and students in STEM career exploration and professional development, and supporting research and teaching faculty at Arizona higher education institutions to develop innovative, content-focused STEM education courses for new teachers. Creating meaningful business engagement opportunities by designing activities for STEM advocates to mentor teachers, host field trips, or contribute to curriculum development. The network is supported primarily through a private foundation, Freeport-McMoRan, Cooper & Gold, which provided $2.2 million to establish the STEM initiative. The foundation announced a new three-year commitment beginning in 2012 totaling $2.1 million for operational funding that will allow SFAz to roll out its new plan. Read the announcement: http://sfaz.org/live/collection/news-stories/114310. A new initiative in Texas is aiming for the same goal of producing more graduates in STEM fields, but efforts will be focused on faculty recruitment with hopes of attracting high-achieving students. Over the next two years, the University of Houston (UH) will hire 60 new faculty members in STEM fields with help from a new $30 million fund. The fund will provide startup incentive packages to attract some of the nation's most talented research faculty in the fields of science, technology, education and mathematics, according to a press release. The initiative is part of the university's efforts to secure Tier 1 status. Read more: http://www.uh.edu/news-events/stories/2012/february/0228STEM.php.

Arizona, Texas