AdvanceKentucky Accelerates MSE Learning for State’s High School Students, New Research

AdvanceKentucky continues to demonstrate its ability in Kentucky schools to dramatically increase access to and accelerate successful learning in rigorous math, science and English (MSE) courses, as shown by qualifying scores on Advanced Placement exams, according to a new research reported undertaken in 2014 by the Kentucky Center for Education and Workforce Statistics. AdvanceKentucky was particularly effective for students from underrepresented populations. The researchers found that AdvancedKentucky students: scored better on their ACTs by 1.5-points; achieved a 10 percentage-point advantage in earning college or career ready status; and, have higher college persistence rates while earning higher GPAs and graduate from college in four years from college at twice the rate of non-AdvanceKentucky students. They also are significantly less likely to attend remedial courses – only 10 percent of AdvancedKentucky students took at least one remedial course compared to 50 percent for the control group. Currently 101 schools across Kentucky use the AdvanceKentucky program. Read the release…

Proposed AR Budget Faces Unclear Future, MS Proposal Targets Public Education, Workforce

Over the last couple weeks, governors in Arkansas and Mississippi presented budgets to their stage legislature. In Arkansas, term-limited Gov. Mike Beebe presented two budget proposals for the 2015-17 biennial budget to state lawmakers. However, Gov.-elect Asa Hutchison also will present a budget to the legislature that may differ from Gov. Beebe’s proposal and potentially impact funding for state agencies due to a proposed $100 million individual income tax cut. Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant released his fiscal year 2016 (FY16) executive budget recommendations highlighted by a $52 million increase in funding for public education including a $3 million commitment for the Mississippi Works Scholarship Program.

FCC Chairman Proposes E-Rate Reform to Extend High-Speed Internet to All Schools in Five Years

Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Tom Wheeler has proposed a permanent $1.5 billion increase in the cap of the E-rate program as part of the largest overhaul of the initiative in 18 years. The E-rate program is the federal government’s largest educational technology program, funding broadband and wireless access for schools and libraries with a portion of the funds received through the Universal Service fee for interstate communications. Chairman Wheeler notes that the rate increase is necessary to provide high-speed access, including WiFi, to 100 percent of schools, which is needed for a modern STEM curriculum. Read the announcement…

Encourage Community College Innovation to Promote Middle-Skill Career Pathways, According to Report

A more innovative economy does not have to lead to greater inequality, as long as educational pathways exist for middle-skill workers, according to a new report from Jobs for the Future and Achieving the Dream. The groups’ Middle-Skill STEM State Policy Framework provides a set of strategic goals for states to link the community college experience with the needs of employers. States should better align community college programs with state economic development strategies, encourage engagement and apprenticeships with the private sector and implement incentives for schools to design more innovative STEM learning opportunities. Download the report…

Race-Based Stereotypes Hamper STEM Participation Among African-American Women

Although black women may show more interest in STEM majors than white women as they enter college, they are less likely to earn a degree in those fields according to new research in Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology. In “Ethnic Variation in Gender-STEM Stereotypes and STEM Participation: An Intersectional Approach,” the authors analyze data from more than 1.7 million college freshmen between 1990 and 1999, finding that both black women and black men initially say they planned to major in STEM fields at higher rates than their white counterparts. Although black women were twice as likely to declare a major in a STEM field, more white women graduate with STEM degrees, prompting the authors to suggest that black women may face “unique barriers” in their pursuit, such as race-based stereotypes.  The Chronicle of Higher Education, which summarizes the article, notes that more research is needed to identify precisely which “unique barriers” create obstacles for black women hoping to obtain degrees in STEM-related fields. Read the article…

NSF Launches Competitions for Community College Students to Provide Solutions for Real World Problems

The National Science Foundation (NSF) launched Community College Innovation Challenge – a Science Technology Engineering & Mathematics (STEM)-focused competition for teams comprised of up to five community college students, a faculty mentor, and a community/industry partner. Teams should propose innovative STEM-based solutions for real world problems within one of the five themes: big data; infrastructure security; sustainability; broadening participation in STEM; and, improving STEM education. NSF will select up to 10 teams invited to attend the Innovation Boot Camp, a professional development workshop on innovation and entrepreneurship. Those 10 teams will be eligible for multiple prizes including a $3,000 first prize. Team proposals are due January 15, 2015. Visit the challenge’s website…

NGA Announces Support for Workforce Training Efforts in 14 States

The National Governor’s Association (NGA) announced that it will provide grants, technical assistance and opportunities to align education and training systems with private sector needs in 14 states. Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Minnesota, Montana, New Jersey, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Virginia, Washington and West Virginia have been selected to receive support to build industry and education partnerships and optimize their workforce-oriented incentives. Example uses of the support include the launch of the Washington STEM Education Innovation Alliance and continued support for Iowa’s workforce development programs.

Despite Growing Demand, Most STEM Graduates Work in Other Fields

About 74 percent of U.S. residents with a bachelor’s degree in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields are not employed in STEM occupations, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey. While STEM graduates are less likely to be unemployed, they generally find careers outside of science and technology. As detailed in a recent SSTI Digest article, many employers are having difficulty filling STEM positions, with the average STEM job posting lasting twice as long as other jobs before being filled. An update to the ongoing Pathways to Prosperity project describes some successful efforts around the country in improving the pipeline of students headed into STEM jobs.

Number of U.S. STEM Graduates Grows, But Workforce Skills Not Keeping Pace with Demand

STEM degrees lead to higher salaries and more employment opportunities than other degrees, according to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). Despite these economic advantages, only 16 percent of 2008 graduates received a STEM degree. The lack of workers with STEM skills has created a difficult hiring environment for many U.S. firms. A recent Brookings Institution study reveals that the lack of STEM graduates has meant that STEM job postings take twice as long to fill as other postings.

U.S. S&E Graduate Enrollment Steady While Foreign Enrollment Rises, NSF Reports

In 2012, U.S. science and engineering graduate programs saw a small 1.7 percent drop in enrollment by U.S. citizens and permanent residents, according to data from the National Science Foundation (NSF). Enrollment by foreign students, however, rose by 4.3 percent. NSF notes that 2012 is the second year in a row that saw very little increase in citizen enrollment, following five years of growth in the range of 2-3 percent. Enrollment by female graduate students, who make up about 43 percent of the total graduate student population, decreased by 0.1 percent, the first decline for that group in 10 years. Strong growth in a few engineering fields, including chemical engineering, mechanical engineering and materials engineering, led to a rebound in overall engineering enrollment following a decline the previous year. Read the report…


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