By Kim Jones, CEO, Curriki
We are all aware that STEM-related (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) jobs are among the best jobs available in our technologically advanced society. STEM education at some level, a basic understanding of STEM topics, is now necessary just to be part of modern society.
Recently the Washington Post hosted a meeting on the state of STEM education for K-12 in the U.S. Attendees represented universities, corporations, public schools, scientific societies and the federal government.
When the Washington Post’s Nick Anderson asked an expert panel what grade the U.S. should get for results in K-12 STEM education, the responses varied from A to F.
A deputy secretary from the Department of Education, John King, stated “In some places we should get an A, and in some places we should get a D.”
Students in the best school districts are performing well and the best of them are winning awards in science, math and technology competitions and entering into the world’s best universities. But he noted that many schools “don’t even offer Algebra 2”, including many schools with predominantly African-American students.
The Department of Education’s “First in the World” grant program is supporting an increase in the enrollment of minority and economically disadvantaged students in STEM majors in college. The Department is pushing for increased funding.
The chancellor of the District of Columbia public schools said it’s too early for a grade, that their effort to enhance STEM education is too recent.
In the D.C. public schools they have a Cornerstones initiative to get more high-quality cross-curricular lessons, including STEM, in use in their classrooms. Lessons are now more oriented toward inquiry and hands-on learning methodologies. The D.C. schools are shifting more to content expertise.
“Anchored by high-impact content-specific instructional models, such as close reading, inquiry-based math, … novel study and research projects, Cornerstones tasks will lead to a variety of meaningful student work products such as essays, oral presentations, musical pieces or art products.” – Cornerstones initiative web site
Curriki very much supports this kind of approach, and we hope that the D.C. public school system will take advantage of the tens of thousands of STEM resources freely available at welcome.curriki.org. These include full standards-compliant and project-based learning-oriented courses in algebra, geometry, and calculus.
As we know the biggest challenge for many students is mathematics, which underpins everything in STEM fields. If a student can master the math, then many avenues in STEM open up to him or her.
Curriki is here to support better student outcomes in STEM and in other fields, in the U.S., and around the globe through open educational resources, freely and widely available.