New tool available to help schools improve STEM programs


The following was released by the NC STEM Community Collaborative.

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. (Dec. 15, 2011) – A free downloadable rubric has been developed to help schools in North Carolina determine the steps needed to develop quality science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) programs.

This rubric was developed by N.C. State University’s Friday Institute for Educational Innovation in collaboration with the NC STEM Community Collaborative and N.C. Department of Public Instruction, as a part of the Golden LEAF Foundation’s STEM Initiative. Local school districts, including Wake County Public School System, also provided input. All districts and schools will have access to the tool.

The rubric complements other efforts recently approved by the North Carolina State Board of Education to help improve local STEM education, including a standard list of attributes of quality STEM education schools and programs, and a new designation for high-achieving STEM schools and programs. All of these efforts fall within the K-12 Statewide STEM Strategic Plan Aligned with Post-Secondary & Economic Needs adopted by the State Board of Education in November.

“School and district staff can use this new STEM rubric to evaluate how much progress has been made in becoming a truly top notch STEM program, and identify what areas might need attention,” said Dr. Jeni Corn, Director of Evaluation Programs at the Friday Institute and one of the rubric’s authors.

For each attribute, there are criteria to describe an Early, Developing, Prepared, or Targeted school or program. These criteria will help schools learn the steps needed to become a prepared or targeted quality program. STEM Attributes are based on local, state and national research and public feedback from more than 100 local, state and national experts on STEM education.

“The input we received from members of our network has made this a uniquely valuable tool for schools and districts,“ added Karl Rectanus, leader of NC STEM Community Collaborative. “It’s an example of the useful, cutting-edge tools North Carolina can develop when we bring numerous players from across the country together to improve education.”

The Golden LEAF Foundation funded the development of the rubric.

“It important for districts, especially those in rural areas, to understand how the work they are doing to design STEM programs aligns with community economic and workforce needs,” said Golden LEAF Vice President Mark Sorrells. “This self-assessment tool can be used to guide schools in improving STEM education and integrating STEM effectively across curricula to prepare all students to be career and college ready.”

The STEM rubric can be downloaded here.

NC STEM Community Collaborative, housed at MCNC, is the statewide partner for STEM in North Carolina. NC STEM helps ensure all students engage in effective STEM education so they will have more choices for college and careers and bolster the economic strength of North Carolina’s communities.

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