Ed News: Unlocking STEM Pathways for All Students

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This week in education news, teacher-student relationships are important in boosting student learning; high schools across the nation are adding competitive video-gaming to its list of extracurricular activities for students; despite its reputation as a field flush with opportunity, even STEM can pose dead ends for students; former Arizona Department of Education employee resigns after she was told to make changes to parts of the draft Arizona Science Standards; current research results are in favor of early childhood experiences for students, especially those who are disadvantaged; diversifying the field of interesting and rigorous math courses could broaden students’ path to STEM and other careers; and former Kentucky Education Commissioner selected as the next president of the Southern Regional Education Board.

Introducing A Digital Science Program For Incarcerated Kids

One thing Michael Krezmien noticed about working with incarcerated teens, is that they’re not a population that typically catches the attention of education researchers—or educational funding organizations. And this is a problem, he realized, as research suggests that the consequences of failing to address the educational needs of incarcerated juveniles are dire. Because incarcerated teens are usually left out of the educational system—having either no access to good education or having been kicked out of school—they often fail to pass state mandated tests in science and cannot obtain a high school diploma. Read the article featured in Forbes magazine.

Two Studies Point To The Power Of Teacher-Student Relationships To Boost Learning

Two studies on how best to teach elementary schools students — one on the popular trend of “platooning” and one on the far less common practice of “looping” — at first would seem totally unrelated other than the fact that they both use silly words with double-o’s. “Platooning” refers to having teachers specialize in a particular subject, such as math or English, and young students switch teachers for each class. “Looping” is a term used when kids keep the same teacher for two years in a row. They don’t switch teachers for each subject and don’t switch each year. Read the article featured in the Hechinger Report.

E-sports In Schools Primed To Grow ‘Bigger Than The NFL’

More than 100 students tried out for just 30 spots when the innovation class at Noblesville High School in the Indianapolis suburbs launched an e-sports team in December 2016. And Noblesville is not alone—dozens of high schools across the nation are adding competitive video-gaming as it becomes one of the fastest-growing activities in both K12 and higher ed. Read the article featured in District Administration.

Unlocking STEM Pathways For All Students

Gateways can swing open, giving students opportunities to master the ability to think logically, reason, model solutions to problems, and troubleshoot, all of which are in demand among employers both in STEM fields and, increasingly in non-STEM ones. Or gateways can shut and lock, cutting off the ability to acquire those skills and putting students at a disadvantage, perhaps for the rest of their lives. Despite its reputation as a field flush with opportunity, even STEM can pose dead ends for students, such as the traps of remedial math education or course sequences that don’t lead to high-paying, satisfying careers. Read the article featured in Education Week.

Former Education Staffer Quits After Being Told To Change Evolution In Science Standards Draft

A former Arizona Department of Education employee says she resigned after she was told to make changes to parts of the draft Arizona Science Standards involving evolution. Lacey Wieser is a former high school biology teacher who began her career with the Arizona Department of Education 14 years ago. Wieser says her most recent title was director of science and STEM. In 2016, she began the process of reviewing and updating the science standards. Read the article featured on AZfamily.com.

E-Cubed Academy Students Win Civics Competition For Science-Lab Legislation

The E-Cubed Academy students who drafted a bill requiring up-to-date science labs at every high school in Rhode Island took top honors at Rhode Island Civics Day. The students, taught by E-Cubed history teacher John Healy, developed the idea for the bill, drafted its language and began advocating for it as part of their involvement in Generation Citizen, which inspires civic participation through civics class that give students the opportunity to experience democracy in action. Read the article featured in the Providence Journal.

How Early Should Kids Begin STEM Education?

Current research results are in favor of early childhood experiences for students, especially those who are disadvantaged. This education is the great equalizer because it provides a rich, common foundation for children who may have diverse backgrounds and experiences. Read the article featured in The Edvocate.

Is STEM Oversold As A Path To Better Jobs?

In report after report, government panels, business groups, and educators have sounded the alarm about the state of training in science, technology, engineering, and math. STEM, they conclude, serves as a gateway to higher-paying jobs and is an important linchpin to a growing economy, and therefore, K-12 education in those fields must be improved. In this vast echo chamber, it can be hard to separate fact from fiction. So Education Week reviewed dozens of research studies and interviewed experts on the challenge. The staff found that the conventional wisdom is generally correct—jobs in STEM are in demand and tend to be more highly paid—but the picture of the STEM pipeline is more nuanced than many of these predictions suggest. Read the article featured in Education Week.

Calculus Is The Peak Of High School Math. Maybe It’s Time to Change That

For more than 30 years, calculus has been seen as the pinnacle of high school math—essential for careers in the hard sciences, and an explicit or unspoken prerequisite for top-tier colleges. But now, math and science professionals are beginning to question how helpful current high school calculus courses really are for advanced science fields. The ubiquitous use of data in everything from physics and finance to politics and education is helping to build momentum for a new path in high school math—one emphasizing statistics and data literacy over calculus. Read the article featured in Education Week.

Former Kentucky Education Commissioner Stephen Pruitt Lands New Job

Barely a month after he was ousted as Kentucky’s top public education official, Stephen Pruitt has landed a new job as president of the Southern Regional Education Board, an organization of southern states formed to improve public education throughout the region. Read the article featured in the Louisville Courier-Journal.

To Hook Students On STEM, Start With Their Parents

There’s a fair amount of hand-wringing about how to get students interested and engaged in STEM subjects. We do know that the pipeline leading to STEM careers begins to leak in high school, when students are faced with decisions about taking advanced mathematics and science classes. Decades of research show that a key factor motivating adolescents to pursue these advanced courses is the perception of utility value. More recently, my research colleagues and I examined the role of parents in communicating utility value to their children. It turns out, it’s critical. Teachers, parents, and peers can all contribute to students’ perception of value. But parents, who are often an untapped resource, can play a crucial role in their children’s learning and motivation because they know what interests them. Read the commentary featured in Education Week.

A Case For Flipping Learning—Without Videos

When professor Lorena Barba talks to other educators about flipping their classrooms, the approach she hears is often similar. Faculty assign homework to expose students to a new concept before they arrive to class, and use class time to ask questions and do more-active learning. In most cases, what professors ask students to do outside the classroom is watch video lectures. Barba thinks that part of the flipped approach needs to go, and that professors are relying too much on videos as a crutch. Read the article featured in EdSource.

Stay tuned for next week’s top education news stories.

The Communication, Legislative & Public Affairs (CLPA) team strives to keep NSTA members, teachers, science education leaders, and the general public informed about NSTA programs, products, and services and key science education issues and legislation. In the association’s role as the national voice for science education, its CLPA team actively promotes NSTA’s positions on science education issues and communicates key NSTA messages to essential audiences.

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