STEM Learning in Washington Gets a Deeper Look
Vital Signs 2012 reports offer opportunity for action, engagement around STEM learning in Washington
Sept. 12 – SEATTLE --
A new report
on the state of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education shows that Washington and many states around the country provide insufficient opportunities for STEM education even though most of the jobs of the future will require STEM skills.
The Vital Signs report from Change the Equation (CTEq) contains an extensive and reliable set of indicators about the state of STEM education in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, as well as a succinct Washington state report
. It was designed to provide business, education, and policy leaders with information and recommendations to promote high-quality STEM learning for all students. The results for Washington confirmed the deep systemic shortage of STEM education opportunities that prompted business, education, and community leaders to form Washington STEM more than a year ago. Washington STEM is a nonprofit dedicated to advancing excellence, equity, and innovation in STEM education in Washington state and a founding member of STEMx, a new multi-state network developed for states, by states, to improve STEM education outcomes.
"I encourage my fellow Washington lawmakers to join me in ensuring that STEM education is a priority throughout Washington state," said Rep. Marcie Maxwell. "Kids from Sequim to Walla Walla need the same STEM learning opportunities as students who attend public schools within shouting distance of Microsoft’s headquarters."
At a time when job demand in Washington exceeds job growth, CTEq has found for every 2.1 STEM jobs in Washington, there is 1 unemployed person. Conversely, for every 3.7 unemployed people, there is 1 non-STEM job.
"STEM skills open doors in today’s information economy,” said Brad Smith, executive vice president and general counsel at Microsoft, and a member of Washington STEM's board of directors. "Currently too few students have the opportunity to learn the STEM skills that jobs at technology companies like Microsoft require. The work that Washington STEM and our local partners are doing to identify best practices in STEM teaching is critical to spreading those practices to more students across the state.”
Among the report's findings is that Washington is moving in the right direction with a commitment to rigorous and clear education standards by adopting the Common Core State Standards and collaborating with 25 other states to design new science standards.
"This data highlights the need to help teachers swiftly and effectively implement the new Common Core State Standards and continue Washington’s leadership in developing the Next Generation Science standards," said Randy Dorn, Superintendent of the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction.
Prioritizing STEM is critical for setting all students up for opportunity and success and for keeping Washington’s communities and economy strong. Key recommendations to improve STEM learning in Washington include:
Help teachers reimagine STEM education. Provide K-12 teachers with the training and tools they need to implement new Common Core State Standards and Next Gen Science Standards, which foster the critical thinking and real-world problem solving skills needed on the job and to tackle the toughest challenges in the 21st Century.
Get Washingtonians to work by increasing and diversifying Washington’s STEM talent pool. To fill the STEM jobs open in Washington today and create the best of jobs of tomorrow, Washington state needs to prepare and inspire a large and diverse pool of people with the STEM skills in high-demand. This starts with providing all young people with effective STEM teachers and exciting opportunities out of school, graduating students ready for postsecondary success (Washington is estimated to spend over $93M on remediating community college students according to the CTEq report), and supporting postsecondary students—with a focus on underrepresented and underserved students— to complete STEM degrees.
Lead the charge. Washington state’s incoming governor should lead the U.S. in solving our nation’s STEM education challenge. The governor will need strong partners across industry, education, state and federal government, and the community to ensure Washington strengthens its PreK-12-postsecondary education system and creates seamless pathways to jobs.
"Math and science education must not stop when the school bell rings in the afternoon," said Tre Maxie, Executive Director of Powerful Schools and a member of the State Board of Education. "Out-of-school programs help bring STEM to life in powerful ways. Prioritizing STEM -- both in and out of school -- is a way to tackle the opportunity gap, particularly for students who have been historically underrepresented.”
About Washington STEM
Washington STEM is a statewide nonprofit dedicated to advancing innovation, equity, and excellence in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education. Launched in March 2011, Washington STEM partners with education, business, and community leaders to bridge opportunities in education and economy that reimagine STEM education for all students, starting with those most underserved and underrepresented in STEM fields. Learn more at www.washingtonstem.org
, join the conversation at Facebook
, or follow STEM on Twitter @washingtonstem
About Change the Equation
Change the Equation (CTEq) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, CEO-led initiative that is mobilizing the business community to improve the quality of STEM learning in the United States. CTEq’s coalition of members strives to sustain a national movement to improve PreK-12 STEM learning by leveraging and expanding its work focusing on three goals: improving philanthropy, inspiring youth, and advocating for change.