More than 90 percent of voters support a high-quality STEM education for all students
February 19, 2015
SEATTLE, Wash. – Ninety-four percent of Washington voters believe every child should have access to a high quality science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education in the state’s K-12 public schools, but just 45 percent believe schools are delivering, according to a new poll.
According to the new poll commissioned by Washington STEM, a nonprofit advancing excellence, innovation, and equity in STEM education in Washington state, Washington voters view STEM education as critical for preparing Washington state’s students for success. Washington voters endorse a variety of state actions to ensure all young people have access to STEM education and to ensure Washington is developing a world-class workforce. As lawmakers grapple with historic decisions about the state’s education system, the poll shows strong public support for STEM education from cradle to career.
“Washington students need a stronger foundation in STEM to prepare them for college, work, and life,” said Patrick D’Amelio, chief executive officer at Washington STEM. “This poll shows that Washingtonians want our leaders to do more to ensure that all young people have access to a high-quality STEM education.”
Poll respondents strongly supported giving more K-12 teachers training and a computer science curriculum (91 percent), expanding the number of K-12 public schools in Washington that offer computer science classes (90 percent), and increasing the capacity of Washington state colleges and universities to graduate more Washington students with computer science degrees (85 percent).
Recent legislation (HB 1813
) introduced in Olympia and sponsored by Rep. Drew Hansen and Rep. Chad Magendanz aims to help expand computer science education by creating the Computer Science and Education Grant Program for educator training and technology and requires the adoption of computer science learning standards and a teaching endorsement.
Recognizing supporting teachers is critical to giving Washington’s students a high-quality STEM education, 94 percent of voters agree it’s a good idea to offer consistent high quality teacher training in STEM classroom subjects like math and science. Currently, teachers seldom have the opportunities to receive effective learning experiences such as seeing demonstrations of new teaching practices, receiving timely feedback, and receiving job-embedded coaching. Rep. Lytton, Rep. Magendanz, and Rep. Bergquist recently introduced legislation (HB 1345
) in Olympia that would adopt a statewide definition of teacher professional development; this will help drive the $300 million spent annually on teacher professional development to outcomes for teachers and students alike.
Embracing a cradle to career approach, 71 percent of voters say it is a good idea to improve early learning programs for children before they enter kindergarten. Rep. Ruth Kagi is the prime sponsor of recent legislation (HB 1491
) introduced in Olympia that would create The Early Start Act to improve the quality of Washington’s childcare and preschools.
“Giving our kids a strong start increases the chance they will be prepared to succeed in school, particularly in math and science” said Dr. Susan Enfield, Superintendent of Highline Public Schools and board member of Washington STEM. “Early learning programs like full-day kindergarten are game changers for our students. They set a strong foundation for students to be successful in STEM and throughout their education and college or career.”
The poll also found that more than 80 percent of Washington voters would support funding specific improvements to STEM facilities, technology, and classroom supplies in schools that can demonstrate a need. Many schools are not currently equipped with the facilities to teach STEM subjects. Recent legislation (SB 5478
) introduced in Olympia sponsored by Sen. Dammeier, Sen. Keiser, Sen. Honeyford, Sen Angel, and Sen. Conway would create a K-12 STEM Capital Grants Program to fund improvements in STEM facilities and help ensure that students have all of the opportunities and resources for a quality STEM education.
Other key findings from the statewide survey include:
92 percent agree the next generation of Washingtonians will have more opportunities if they have strong STEM skills.
86 percent agree that STEM education is needed to ensure students are given the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in the 21st century.
81 percent agree increased focus on STEM education in Washington will improve the state’s economy.
86 percent of voters support increasing the number of college students graduating with a degree in a STEM field.
79 percent of voters support the use of the Next Generation Science Standards within Washington’s K-12 public schools.
68 percent of voters support the use of Common Core State Standards within Washington’s K-12 public schools.
Strategies 360 conducted the statewide survey of 647 registered Washington voters from January 31 – February 4, 2015. The topline findings have a margin of error of four percent.