EDU6978: Week 04: Due 2012-07-22

The part of this weeks reading that really resonated with me was the article on “weed out” classes in college.  I see STEM pipeline leaks at college level as a mix of social justice issues (getting minority and underrepresented students into college) and then education reform at college (and community college) levels to keep those students in school and help them graduate with STEM qualifications.
Notes (Verbatim from source unless italic)

Science, Technology, Engineering & Math (SETDA, 2008)

Executive Summary

The students in kindergarten this year will graduate in 2020. It is our responsibility
to ensure that our children are prepared to lead our country in the 21st Century and
compete in the global marketplace. In order to do that, we need to provide our children
with an education that includes a solid foundation in science, technology, engineering,
and mathematics (STEM). We also need to encourage the students of today to pursue
careers in STEM-related fields. The opportunity cost for not addressing this challenge
is too high for our country to ignore. In this paper, SETDA discusses the importance of
STEM education, the current state of STEM education, and barriers to implementing
STEM education and recommends what stakeholders and policymakers can do to
support STEM education.

  • What is STEM Education?  key words:  emphasis, integrate, entire curriculum
  • Why STEM Education is Important?  key words:  prepared, demand, projections, compete, growing
  • Current State of STEM Education
    • The initial force behind STEM education initiatives was to develop future engineers and scientists through the implementation of specialty or magnet high schools focusing on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
    • While this approach works for students enrolled in these high schools, the majority of kids in most school districts in the country do NOT have STEM school options.
  • STEM Education Initiatives
  • Barriers to STEM Education
    • What Hinders Districts from Offering High-Quality STEM Education Programs in ALL Schools?
      • Curriculum and credit issues
      • Lack of funding
      • Lack of qualified teachers
      • Inadequate policies to recruit and retain STEM-Educated Teachers
    • What Hinders our Teachers?
      • Difficult to retain teachers with STEM background
      • STEM-trained professionals often don’t pursue teaching because of low compensation
      • STEM teachers have difficulty advancing professionally
      • Lack of adequate preparation for teachers by higher education
      • Classroom time constraints
    • What Hinders our Kids
      • Societal and cultural beliefs that mathematics, science, engineering, and technology are not for everyone.  Parents, teachers, and the community say to kids:
        • “I’m not good in science”
        • “I don’t have the engineering gene”
        • “I’m doing fine without mathematics skills”
        • “I didn’t need the Internet when I was in school”
      • Kids don’t see relevance of STEM education
      • Difficult to attract and keep kids in STEM careers
  • Key Recommendations
    • Where Do We Want to Go?  key concepts:  integrated curriculum, ALL children, start in Kindergarten
    • How Are We Going to Get There?  need strategic plan involving community, parents, school districts and states
      • Obtain societal support for STEM education
        • Not only do our students need a strong foundation in STEM in order to be successful in the workforce, as educated citizens, our students need a solid background in these areas so that they can make informed decisions in all parts of their lives – from the kind of car they drive and its impact on their budget, to the type of energy sources available for heating their homes, to the technology needed to stay connected with friends and family.
      • Expose students to STEM careers (examples)
      • Provide on-going and sustainable STEM professional development
        • Online Professional Development
        • Online Courseware
      • Provide STEM pre-service teacher training
        • Cincinnati Initiative for Teacher Education (CITE)
        • The U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Science:  Office of Workforce Development for Teachers and Scientists
      • Recruit and retain STEM teachers
        • Teachers Learning in Networked Communities (TLINC)

        • The UTeach Program

          • As a result, greater numbers of graduates with degrees in STEM fields are choosing teaching careers. Of those who graduated from the UTeach program and started teaching four years ago, approximately 82% are still teaching.


        • California Mathematics and Science Teacher Corps at California State University, Dominguez Hills
          • This program was created to provide training and credentials to retired and laid-off aerospace workers interested in becoming elementary or secondary mathematics and science teachers.
        • George Washington University, Washington DC Teacher Preparation Program – QUEST


In conclusion, education stakeholders have a responsibility to ensure that all students have access to high quality instruction in the STEM areas. STEM is a critical component of transforming our educational system and ensuring our students are prepared to thrive in the 21st century global economy. SETDA will continue to add resources and programs to:

Gauging the STEM Effect (Petrinjak, 2012)

Nearly two-thirds of educators say science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education in the form of programs, courses, or certifications has been introduced in their states, according to a recent NSTA poll. However, few (10.5%) report receiving more time for teaching science as a result or having a dedicated STEM lab space (18%). Half of the participants indicated their schools offer engineering courses, and nearly 48% said computer science is not considered part of STEM education.

Approximately 41% said STEM professional development was regularly offered to teachers in their state, while slightly more than 16% did not know if any was offered. In addition, only 12% said teachers in their state or school were certified in STEM.

  • Article is basically some selected quotes from the poll grouped into sections entitled “Lacking Time, Resources” and “NCLB Hurdles” and “Integrated Approaches”
  • Roughly half of the quotes reveal that we have a long way to go yet in STEM education.  Here are a couple of quotes that particularly spoke to me:imageimage

Gender Math Gap is Cultural, Not Biological (Welsh, 2011)

  • This article summarizes research paper which I discuss below.
  • A couple of direct quotes from the authors of the paper
    • "This is not a matter of biology: None of our findings suggest that an innate biological difference between the sexes is the primary reason for a gender gap in math performance," study researcher Janet Mertz, of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, said in a statement. The study suggests that "the math-gender gap, where it occurs, is due to sociocultural factors that differ among countries, and that these factors can be changed."
    • "The girls living in some Middle Eastern countries, such as Bahrain and Oman, had, in fact, not scored very well, but their boys had scored even worse, a result found to be unrelated to either Muslim culture or schooling in single-gender classrooms," study researcher Jonathan Kane, of the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, said in a statement.
    • "We found that boys — as well as girls — tend to do better in math when raised in countries where females have better equality," Kane said. "It makes sense that when women are well-educated and earn a good income, the math scores of their children of both genders benefit."

Debunking Myths About Gender and Mathematics Performance (Kane & Mertz, 2012)

    In summary, we conclude that gender equity and other sociocultural factors, not national income, school type, or religion per se, are the primary determinants of mathematics performance at all levels for both boys and girls. Our findings are consistent with the gender stratified hypothesis, but not with the greater male variability, gap due to inequity, single-gender classroom, or Muslim culture hypotheses. At the individual level, this conclusion suggests that well-educated women who earn a good income are much better positioned than are poorly educated women who earn little or no money to ensure that the educational needs of their children of either gender with regard to learning mathematics are well met. It is fully consistent with socioeconomic status of the home environment being a primary determinant for success of children in school. At the national level, the United States ranked only thirty-first in mean mathematics performance out of the sixty-five countries that participated in the 2009 PISA. Eliminating gender discrimination in pay and employment opportunities could be part of a win-win formula for producing an adequate supply of future workers with high-level competence in mathematics. Wealthy countries that fail to provide gender equity in employment are at risk of producing too few citizens of either gender with the skills necessary to compete successfully in a knowledge-based economy driven by science and technology.

Evidence Persists of STEM Achievement Gap for Girls (Robelen, 2012)

  • That’s right. Name your [AP] subject. Chemistry? Check. Biology? Check. Computer science. Statistics. Calculus. And on and on. In all 10 courses, the finding is the same: Boys on average outperform girls.
  • The latest [NAEP] data, for 2011, show a 5-point gap for 8th graders on NAEP’s 0-500 scale. (That was the only grade level tested in 2011.) Two years prior, science data for 2009 show average scores for girls trailing boys at all three grade levels tested. But what’s striking here is that the gap appears to widen as students get older, from 2 points in 4th grade to 6 points by 12th.
  • On PISA, boys—on average—outperform girls in math across the 34-member nations of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. In science, there is no measurable difference. (This is based on the most recent data, from 2009, for the Program for International Student Assessment, an exam for 15-year-olds.)
    • But guess what? Not only did the U.S. data show a gender gap in BOTH math and science (with females behind). In each case, the PISA report said, the U.S. gap was among the largest of any country tested.
  • To make matters a little more confusing, another global database suggests that girls may have an achievement edge in both math and science when looking across nations. These data are for the most recent round, in 2007, of TIMSS, the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study
  • To be sure, global comparisons are complicated. It’s not just a matter of what goes on in the education system, but how that fits into the larger social and cultural context. And maybe that’s exactly the point when it comes to an issue like STEM education, where many experts and advocates believe the United States still needs to see a change in attitudes, from how students view themselves to the messages they receive from educators, their parents, and society at large.

“Weed Out” Classes Are Killing STEM Achievement (Koebler, 2012)

  • Not enough American students are showing interest in studying for degrees in science, technology, engineering and math, but what experts are more shocked by is the fact that colleges are throwing out the students who are interested.
  • But in a country where more scientists are desperately needed, that culture needs to change, says Freeman Hrabowski, president of the University of Maryland Baltimore County. Hrabowski was named as one of TIME Magazine’s 100 most influential people earlier this week for the University’s success in graduating minority students in STEM.
  • "A lot of people will say [unprepared freshmen] is the problem of the high schools," says David Seybert, dean of the Bayer School for Natural and Environmental Sciences as Duquesne University. "But we have to be part of that solution."



State Educational Technology Directors Association. (2008). Science, Technology, Engineering & Math. SETDA. Retrieved July 16, 2012 from

Petrinjak, L. (2012, May 8). Gauging the STEM Effect. NSTA WebNews. Retrieved July 16, 2012 from

Welsh, J. (2011, December 12). ‘Gender math gap’ is cultural, not biological. Retrieved July 17, 2012 from

Kane, J. M., & Mertz, J. E. (2012). Debunking Myths about Gender and Mathematics Performance. Notices of the American Mathematical Society. 59(1). pp 10-21.  Retrieved July 18, 2012 from

Robelen, E. (2012, June 11). Evidence Persists of STEM Achievement Gap for Girls. Education Week. Retrieved July 17, 2012 from

Koebler, J. (2012, April 19). Experts: ‘Weed Out’ Classes Are Killing STEM Achievement. US News and World Report. Retrieved July 17, 2012 from

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