Page 1







INTRODUCTION Getting Here S.T.E.M., at one time, was simply an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. It had a simple goal of bringing attention to a group of occupations that were not being filled by students coming through the American education system. As attention increased and probing questions required more detail, the acronym grew into a word. STEM fields, STEM occupations, and STEM majors weren’t so easily defined and the need to identify the requirements for a strong STEM Education at a National level became increasingly difficult. As the Delaware STEM Council has worked this past year on articulating what STEM Education is and what it should accomplish, there is one thing that is clear. There are common threads that tie the S, the T, the E, and the M together. Threads based on common skills, knowledge, and language. Threads, as we will see, that also connect STEM to many other real world experiences. There is a lot of work ahead in the development of a robust STEM Education system in Delaware, but identifying and strengthening the common threads will be a critical component. This is why it is illustrated in our logo – to illustrate that the whole of STEM is greater than the sum of its parts. The STEM Pipeline Throughout this report, there will be references to what is called the STEM pipeline. It helps to provide a visual analogy to illustrate the expectations of a STEM education. Figure 1a for example shows that the purpose of the pipeline is to use the education system to provide students with the knowledge and skills necessary to become employable. Figure 1a – The STEM Pipeline

Figure 1b shows that as we try to peer into this pipeline, things become a little more intricate. On the right hand side, we see pipes within pipes, representing the specialization employers will be looking for in the filling of a variety of jobs. On the left side where students enter the pipeline, we don’t see this specialization. This is very important for two reasons; one is that the jobs that will be available to the students entering the pipeline now have yet to been created, the other is that the interests and talents of entering students have yet to be developed. 4

Figure 1a – The STEM Pipeline

3 Main Players This report on the accomplishments and direction laid out by the six subcommittees of the Delaware STEM Council will be viewed through the lenses of the three main forces that are central to our building of a renowned STEM Education System. They are Delaware’s Businesses, Delaware’s Institutes of Higher Education, and Delaware’s Public Education System from Kindergarten through 12th grade.

re ’s Delawa es s Busines

Delawa K-12 E re’s ducatio System n


Delaware’s Institutes of Higher Education

STEM & DELAWARE’S BUSINESSES Favorable History The interconnectedness between STEM areas is pretty apparent to the business world. Business leaders must constantly see the big picture as the world constantly changes. They sometimes fire and hire based on the continually changing knowledge and skills that are required. Sometimes they can re-tool or re-train employees to fit new jobs. But what is easiest is when employees come with the adaptable skills, knowledge, and mindset that make them agile within a large company or a small business. STEMists and STEMgineers who can fit many roles are highly desirable employees.


Positive Numbers Delaware, as it turns out, is fertile Figure 2 – STEM Workforce in 2011 ground when it comes to economic Percent of Workforce in development around STEM related Science & Engineering Occupations 7 businesses and industries. Delaware 6.04 5.37 certainly has a history rich with 6 4.55 innovation, scientific advancement 5 3.73 and enduring partnerships with the 4 education system. There are also the 3 business friendly laws and 2 regulations that make Delaware very 1 attractive to STEM related Business. 0 With these two foundational pieces, MD (7th) DE (10th) NJ (11th) PA (13th) it should be of little surprise that in State (National Rank)

NY (29th)

Percent of Technical Workers in Workforce


2010, Delaware’s workforce percentage in Science & Engineering ranked 10th Nationally and ahead of New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and New York regionally. When considering Technical Workers, Delaware ranked 7th Nationally and ahead of all Middle States. As seen in the figure below, Delaware has a favorable concentration of Engineers and Computer Specialists.


2.00 1.80 1.60 1.40 1.20 1.00 0.80 0.60 0.40 0.20 0.00



1.55 1.31

DE (7th)

MD (10th)

NJ (14th)

NY (25th)


PA (34th)

State (National Rank) Source:

As a way of gauging the amount of innovation and discovery occurring in Delaware, consider the concentration of patents awarded to Scientists and Engineers. Delaware ranked 17th Nationally in 2010 putting it ahead of New York, Pennsylvania, and Maryland. What’s more impressive is that when looking at the percentage of High Tech businesses to all businesses, Delaware ranked first as a state in the nation in 2010.


Figure 3 – STEM Innovation Indicators in 2010 % High Tech to all Business Establishments

Patents per 1000 Science & Engineering Holders 17.5

20 Number



13.56 10.84















5 0

0 NJ


NY States





NJ States


Figures like these should present the state with a great foundation on which to build a strong STEM Education System. However, if Delaware cannot build a STEM Education System that is better than its regional neighbors, the economic consequences for Delaware could be catastrophic. Delaware Businesses need to be assured that there is a pipeline that produces STEM professionals as well as a STEM capable workforce. Employment Projections The outlook for the STEM related jobs required by Delaware businesses is promising for the near future. As illustrated in the pipeline illustration below, by 2018, STEM occupations will make up one in every twelve Delaware occupations. Within these STEM occupations, 14% will be Biologists, Chemists, and Physicists, 23% will be Engineers and Engineer Technicians, and 55% will be in Computer Occupations. The high demand for these jobs, particularly in Computers, should obviously raise questions regarding the supply coming through the education system. This will surly be discussed further in this report. Figure 4 – The STEM Knowledge Pipeline


A STEM Education has great transferability. In-depth knowledge of mathematics, computers, engineering, life sciences and physical sciences will obviously be essential to Delaware’s STEM occupations. However, as illustrated in the pipeline below, much of this knowledge is transferable to non STEM occupations. Computer Knowledge for example includes knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, computer hardware and computer software including applications and programming. According to O*Net (Occupational Information Network sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor) and Delaware's Occupation and Industry Projections, this knowledge base in computers will be important to 54% of all Delaware occupations and very important to 38% by 2018. A STEM education also develops skill sets such as science skills, math skills, and critical thinking skills. Like knowledge, these skills are also highly transferable to a wide range of occupations. By 2018 for example, nearly 1 in 4 Delaware occupations will require significant Science Skills. Likewise, mathematics skills and critical thinking skills will be important to 81% and 96% Delaware occupations respectively. Figure 5 – The STEM Skills pipeline

As we move forward, it is essential that Delaware’s STEM education system provide the skills and knowledge required by most of Delaware’s businesses. Therefore, STEM education must be pervasive in all learning institutions. It is equally important that the Delaware STEM Council, through the Business Council, conduct a survey of Delaware Business Needs. Importance of Sustainable Growth It is obviously important to hang on to the businesses that have invested in Delaware and help them grow. It is also important to maintain the attraction to Delaware for STEM related businesses. Keep in mind however that employment projections are just that, projections. If we are able to exceed the numbers coming out of the pipeline, Delaware puts itself in a strong position to use STEM to grow economically. Therefore, the Delaware STEM 8

Council recommends the establishment of a Business Council that focuses on Delaware’s STEM occupations. The Contributions STEM Education Provides to All Delaware Businesses It is important for all those within the pipeline to have an understanding of their place in the world…a world that is becoming increasingly technical as well as culturally and economically interconnected. There are experiences gained in a strong STEM education that can be of value to all Delaware employers as well as those who own a home, volunteer within their community, and maintain a healthy lifestyle. STEM experiences should give all within the pipeline the opportunities to; take risks, be creative & imaginative problem solvers, and collaborate across networks. They should emphasize; information access & analysis, and written & oral communication. Ultimately, experiences gained from a STEM education should develop in all students what Carol Dweck calls a growth mindset. Figure 6 – The STEM Experiences Pipeline

“The skill  you’ll  need  to  survive  in  a  flat  world  is   to  learn  how  to  learn…to  learn  how  to  learn,   you  have  to  love  how  to  learn”                  -­‐  Tom  Friedman  

“In the  growth  mindset,  people  believe  that  their  talents  and  abilities  can  be  developed  through  passion,   education,  and  persistence.  For  them,  it’s  about  a  commitment  to  taking  informed  risks  and  learning  from  the   results,  surrounding  yourself  with  people  who  will  challenge  you  to  grow,  looking  frankly  at  your  deficiencies   and  seeking  to  remedy  them.”   -­‐  Carol  Dweck   Mindset:  The  New  Psychology  of  Success  


Engaging the Contribution of Alumni Chapters The prominence of Delaware’s businesses has allowed them to draw world-class talent in STEM fields to Delaware. These individuals often have a desire to become permanent residents, volunteer in our communities and assist local schools where they can. They are also involved in Delaware and regional alumni chapters from very prestigious schools. The Delaware STEM Council recommends the development of a network of Delaware chapters of alumni associations of world class Colleges and Universities in STEM and connecting this network to the Delaware STEM Web


STEM & DELAWARE’S INSTITUTES OF HIGHER EDUCATION Delaware’s IHE System Delaware’s institutes of higher education have been meeting the needs of a wide spectrum of post-secondary students for many years. The current system including the University of Delaware, Delaware State University, Delaware Technical & Community College, and Delaware’s private Colleges & Universities, have two strengths that need to be pointed out. One is the broad access they offer Delawareans with multiple campuses in multiple counties. The other is the partnerships they have established with each other in which one often serves as a stepping stone for another. In terms of their role on the broader STEM education system, consider the number of ways they touch those in the STEM pipeline. They educate both future STEM professionals as well as the continuing education STEM professionals. They also educate future STEM K12 teachers as well as continuing education STEM K12 teachers. Delaware’s institutes of higher education also invest in STEM related research that draws federal grant funding into our state as well as making the discoveries that spark innovations for local businesses. The links that Higher Ed has established in Delaware puts it in a critical place in the greater Delaware STEM Education System. Positive Numbers Consistent with Businesses It was pointed out above that Delaware businesses are competitive in STEM areas both nationally as well as regionally. Comparatively, when considering all Delaware Institutes of Higher Ed, Delaware appears to be just as competitive nationally. For example, in 2009, Delaware ranked 13th nationally in the proportion of science & engineering degrees conferred and 21st in the proportion of advanced science & engineering degrees. However, as seen below, Delaware IHEs do not do nearly as well regionally in these areas. Though Delaware IHEs certainly draw a significant number of students from out of state, one questions at to whether there is a stronger attraction for Delaware students to pursue STEM degrees in a neighboring state? Is there a brain drain of our most promising high school STEM students? The Delaware STEM Council recommends efforts to attract and retain Delaware’s top STEM students as well as top Out-of-State STEM students. Figure 7 - Science & Engineering Degrees from Delaware's Institutes of Higher Education in 2009 Advanced Science & Engineering Degrees to all Science & Engineering Degrees

Science & Engineering Degrees Conferred per 1000 Individuals 21.7




35 20.2

30 15.9


Number per 1000


15 10 5


31 27.3




20 15 10 5

0 PA (7th)


MD (10th) NY (11th) DE (13th) NJ (29th) State (National Rank)

MD (3rd) NJ (10th) NY (12th) DE (21st) PA (26th) State (National Rank)



The Leaky Pipe Problem Like most Colleges and Universities Nationally, Delaware’s Institutes of Higher Education suffer from a significantly high attrition rate of STEM majors at the post-secondary level. Though there are a number of identifiable reasons for this, it may be helpful to define why the attrition rate has been problematic. STEM degrees are very challenging degrees to attain. They require a strong knowledge base that often exceeds high school graduation requirements. Courses often have additional lab time components. Courses are often very sequential giving little room to fall behind if the goal is to graduate on time. They deal with fields and subjects that are advancing rapidly by the year, and there is a wide range of other majors competing for the caliber of students STEM fields tend to attract. Consider that only 17% of U.S. degrees in 2006 were earned in STEM while that number was over 25% in France, the UK, and Mexico, and over 50% in China and Japan. Here, the pipeline analogy is very helpful. Even if the K12 education system produces students who are enthusiastic about entering the STEM pipeline, the pipe is leaking. This is a challenge amongst STEM majors because once a student drips out, it is very difficult to get them back in without starting back as the beginning of the pipe. Now, with this leaky pipe analogy, it should be pointed out that some of the leakiness is there by design. A leaky pipe for example, can help distribute a deeper knowledge of STEM subjects amongst non-STEM fields that rely on the skills and experiences associated with STEM. Besides, students will always need to have the opportunity to change their minds about their future endeavors. But are they leaking because they had a change of heart or because they were under-prepared or under supported? Figure 8 – The Leaking STEM Pipeline


Preparation of STEM Teachers It may not be as important to focus efforts on stopping the leak as to determining what to do with the students who leak. Many of these students have gained a significant level of STEM knowledge and skills that would be very useful in other occupations. O*Net identifies two of these occupations, health and managerial occupations, as STEM competitors. One question is how do IHEs work with students who decide to change majors and is there a support in place that directs more of those students who leak out of the STEM pipeline into teacher programs, the K12 system and the education profession? The Delaware STEM Council recommends a system that identifies students who drop out of a STEM major and directs them into teacher preparation programs and into the schools that would value their STEM knowledge and skills. Finding highly qualified STEM teachers in general is a significant challenge in Delaware’s public high schools, especially in areas of physics, chemistry and higher mathematics like calculus. According to the Delaware Department of Education, science represents the highest percentage (10.4%) of classrooms not taught by a highly qualified teacher. From the business world, it would seem as if the rules of supply and demand would adjust for this. Just as those in STEM professions command top salaries to supply the skills and knowledge demands of companies, why shouldn’t STEM educators be attracted to their profession by the same means? In short, due to the complexities associated with the entire education system and not just STEM education, the Delaware STEM council will recognize this potential solution but focus on short time solutions. As mentioned before, Delaware’s Institutes of Higher Education have formed unique partnerships, many of which help students find their way into a STEM pipeline and keep them there. Consider for example the program developed in 2003 by Delaware Tech with a connected degree to the University of Delaware for Mathematics Secondary Education or the partnership established in 2008 between Delaware Tech and Wilmington University to produce qualified teachers in Middle Level Mathematics. Delaware Tech is currently working out a similar program with the University of Delaware to increase the number of highly qualified Chemistry and Physics teachers. The Delaware STEM Council recommends that such partnerships and programs be continued, expanded, and supported. Though it is an area that traditionally does not receive as much attention as Math and Science simply because it is not tied to graduation requirements or any statewide accountability assessment, Technology and Engineering education is just as critical to STEM education and finding highly qualified teachers is just as challenging. None of Delaware’s Institutes of Higher Education offer teacher preparation programs in Technology Education. Most of Delaware’s current Engineering and Technology teachers either came from industry or went through programs in schools in neighboring states including The College of New Jersey, Millersville University, and University of Maryland Eastern Shore. The Delaware STEM Council recommends the development of a teacher preparation program for Engineering and Technology Education by Delaware’s IHEs. Changes in the Teaching of STEM Subjects To better prepare students to pursue and attain college level degrees in STEM, there is obviously work to be done in the K-12 education system. This includes the need for a broader understanding of what a college level STEM education looks like. For example, most


college faculty are actually decreasing the amount of lectures and textbook problems as the chief methods of instruction. They are supplementing these with an increase in the use of group work, design projects, open-ended problems, case studies, application exercises, and computer simulations. Students coming out of high schools who have never experienced learning a STEM subject using these methods will be at a distinct disadvantage. These changes in the way higher education faculty teach STEM subjects and why they teach these ways are critical. What should be recognized it the profound influence college teaching has on K12 teaching, especially at the high school level. High school teachers of STEM subjects often teach exactly how they learned a STEM subject. If their college experience was heavy in lecture only, it is likely that they will lack the capacity to teach a STEM subject any other way. Any opportunity for higher education to share, through professional development opportunities, how pedagogy in STEM subjects is continually evolving in response to business requirements as well as increases in the understanding of how the brain works and students learn, can have a profound impact on the entire STEM education system. The Delaware STEM Council recommends professional development partnerships between IHEs and K12 that focus on the marriage of best teaching strategies with relevant STEM experiences. Readiness Standards for STEM These teaching strategies are an indication of the importance of not just what STEM students know, but also what they do. Much of the content students learn in calculus, physics, and computer language is learned best through processes of scientific inquiry and engineering design. All of this needs to be considered is student preparation for STEM majors. Therefore, the STEM Education council will work with Delaware’s IHEs to develop College Readiness Standards for STEM and work with the K12 Education system to back-map these standards from 12th grade to kindergarten. Figure 9 – Backmapping from College Expectations (CE)


K12 Partnerships and Broader Impact Delaware’s IHEs have many opportunities to partner with the K12 system in ways that establish a clearly defined pipeline and influencing the Delaware students in that pipeline. Consider for example that as major participants in STEM related research in Delaware, Delaware’s IHEs are continually involved in federal grants. Many of these grants come with criterion on Broader Impacts. For example, grants applicants dealing with the National Science Foundation must answer the question, “How well does the activity advance discovery and understanding while promoting teaching, training, and learning? How well does the proposed activity broaden the participation of underrepresented groups (e.g., gender, ethnicity, disability, geographic, etc.)? To what extent will it enhance the infrastructure for research and education, such as facilities, instrumentation, networks, and partnerships? Will the results be disseminated broadly to enhance scientific and technological understanding? What may be the benefits of the proposed activity to society?” These types of criterion set the climate for establishing and maintaining partnerships throughout Delaware’s STEM education system. The Delaware STEM Council recommends the creation of a network that connects IHE Federal Grant writers on STEM research with the STEM needs of Delaware schools.


STEM & DELAWARE’S K-12 EUCATION SYSTEM Race to the Top Reform When Delaware was awarded the Race to the Top grant in 2010, its application indicated that the state was committed to intense education reform. With this reform came a promise to adopt the National Common Core State Standards and to improve STEM Education. As Delaware School Districts work to implement Race to the Top, one of the big initiatives is the use of Learning Focused Solutions, or LFS. LFS is a framework that helps professional educators to look thoroughly at the standards they are charged to teach and write lessons that are based on well researched teaching practices. The opportunity here is the alignment of the Common Core Standards with the College readiness standards set by Delaware’s Institutes of Higher Education. Looking deeper into the Common Core Standards, there are two additional aspects that are good for STEM education. One is the overlap built into the design of the Common Core between Math, Science, and ELA (English Language Arts). This joint effort is an example of the breaking down of silos that needs to be more prolific throughout the education system. This overlap also addresses the common skills and knowledge employers need in the 21st century global economy as stated above. In other words, a greater portion of the education system will contribute to STEM education. Figure 10 – The Influence of the National Common Core


It is worth pointing out one more contribution that the Common Core Standards will make to STEM Education. The soon to be released common core standards in science, known as the Next Generation Science Standards, are being written on a framework that stresses the processes of scientific work as much as the content. Just like the changes in the way College faculty teach, more students in the K12 system will be actively engaged in scientific inquiry as well as engineering design as the modes through which they learn science. Once the Next Generation Science Standards and the STEM Readiness Standards from the Institutes of Higher Education are available, the Delaware STEM Council recommends that these standards be back-mapped from College to Kindergarten. DOE STEM Associate With the overlap of standards, there is a collision of worlds type condition where the educators in mathematics, science, and technology education, each of whom have long traditions of working in silos, now must work together. The Delaware STEM Council recommends the creation of a STEM Associate position within Delaware’s Department of Education who can independently bridge the differences between the STEM departments of mathematics, science, and technology education. This would not necessarily be an oversight position to ensure quality of math, science, and technology programming, but a position to engage math, science, and technology to ensure quality STEM programming. Current Student Interests in STEM It was previously stated that one major challenge to not having the supply of STEM professionals to meet the demand of businesses is a leaky STEM pipeline. The other major challenge would have to be getting enough students to even consider entering the STEM pipeline. Delaware’s success in providing a strong STEM education from K to 12, will be measured by strong student interest in STEM areas and strong student preparation in STEM areas. One indicator that can be used to gauge student interest is the survey portion of the PSAT as shown in the figure below. When asked in 2010, What do you intend to major in College?, 1 in 5 Delaware Juniors indicated a STEM major. Though this is a favorable indicator at a National level, it is equivalent to all Juniors in the Middle States region. When looking at gender differences, nearly 1 in 3 Delaware Male Juniors picked a STEM Major while only 1 in 10 Female Juniors picked a STEM Major. Compared to the Middle States Region, Delaware Males ranked first, while Delaware Females ranked last. Interestingly, both Male and Female Juniors were above the Middle States average in picking Engineering while falling below the average in picking Computer/Informational Science. Also interesting is that when Health Professions (an occupation category that competes for STEM skills and knowledge) are considered, Delaware has as much as 5% more Male and Female students picking these majors than the Middle States Average.


Figure 11 - 11th Grade Intended Majors on PSATs in 2010 All Students

Male Students

Female Students


Physical Sciences  




Engineering Technologies  




Computer/Information Science   Biological  Sciences  

10.0% 5.0%  


0.0% Middle   States  


Middle States  


Middle States  



The Preparation of Delaware Students When it comes to indications of adequate preparation for STEM Majors, we can again look at PSAT. The College Board, which administers the PSAT as well as specialized AP exams, has collected enough data to draw correlations between the two exams. Therefore, PSAT sub-scores in mathematics can indicate the potential for success on AP exams in Physics, Chemistry, Calculus, and Computer Science. Using this information, we can see that 7% of Delaware Juniors have at least an 84% chance of passing an AP STEM exam (AP Physics, AP Chemistry, AP Calculus, or AP Computer Science) while over 9% of Middle States Juniors have the same chance. Interestingly, fewer Female students have chances of passing an AP STEM exam. Just over 5% of Delaware Female Juniors and 6% of Middle State Female Juniors have at least an 84% chance.


Figure 12 - Percent of 11th Graders within PSAT Math Score Ranges and Potential to Pass AP STEM* Exams

PSAT Math Score Range

70 to 74

65 to 69







60 to 64

All Delaware Juniors









All Middle States Juniors


Female Delaware Juniors






% Chance of passing AP STEM* Course

75 to 80

Female Middle States Juniors

Source:   *  Average  between  AP  Calculus  AB  &  BC,  AP  Chemistry,  AP  Physics  B,  AP  Physics  C-­‐Mechanics,  AP  Physics  C-­‐E&M,  &  AP  Computer  Science

Though these predictions are only based on math performance, actual AP performance on AP STEM exams seem to agree with these projections. In 2011, Delaware ranked last in the region with only 58% of students passing an AP STEM Exam. In order to catch up proportionally to the regional leader, New Jersey, Delaware would need an additional 248 public school students who took an AP STEM exam to actually pass it. That would be a significant 15% increase. In terms of taking AP STEM exams, Delaware had 73 public school students for every AP STEM exam taken by a public school student. Only Pennsylvania had a larger ratio. Proportionally, Delaware would need an additional 1,120 AP STEM exams taken (69% increase) by public school students in order to catch the regional leader, Maryland which had 43 students for ever AP STEM exam taken. Also in 2011, Delaware ranked last in the region in terms of the number of Female students who passed AP STEM Exams. Proportionally, Delaware would need 135 female students who took an AP STEM exam this last Spring, to pass in order to catch the regional leader, New Jersey. Nationally, the participation of African American students in taking AP STEM exams is frighteningly low. Within the Middle States region, for example, African American students represented less than 3% of students who passed AP STEM exams in 2011. However, when it comes to helping these students to find success once they enroll in an AP STEM class, Delaware again ranks last in the Middle States region. Only 16% of African American students were successful in 2011 on an AP STEM exam compared to 42% in New Jersey. All other states in the region had a success rate amongst African American students of 30% or greater. It should be pointed out that in 2006, Delaware was 11th in the nation in the percentage of students taking AP exams. Nearly the same number of Delaware students took AP exams in 2010, yet our ranking fell to 19th in the nation.


Figure 13 - State Comparisons on 2011 AP STEM* Exams % of students passing AP STEM Exams 58%







New York


New Jersey



Number of Public School Students to the Number of AP STEM Exams Taken 157 121








New York

New Jersey


% of Public School African American students passing AP STEM Exams 31%






New York

New Jersey

16% 3%



% of Female students passing AP STEM Exams 47%










New York

New Jersey

AP Data  Source: *  AP  STEM  Exams  include  AP  Biology,  AP  Calculus  AB  &  BC,  AP  Chemistry,  AP  Computer  Science,  AP  Physics  B,  C-­‐Mechanics  and  C-­‐E&M

A Note on Physics Delaware’s overall AP STEM numbers include AP Biology. When we focus in on another major science like physics, we find that Delaware had the lowest percentage in the region of students taking an AP Physics exam and of passing an AP Physics exam. In fact, for Delaware students to proportionally catch up to the Middle States average, an additional 150 AP Physics exams (77% increase) would need to be taken. To proportionally catch Maryland, Delaware students would need to take 220 additional AP Physics Exams (113% increase). The Delaware STEM Council recommends that all Delaware High Schools offer Physics courses and work to develop an AP Physics program that recruits and retains students, especially women and minorities, interested in STEM careers and provides a minimum of 270 hours of in school physics instruction. Collaborations between Math and Science Departments that prepare students for the AP Physics C exams, which are calculus based, should be the ultimate goal.


A Note on Computer Science It was mentioned above that Computer/Informational Science will be the greatest sector in STEM occupations for Delaware by 2018. When looking at AP Computer Science, only 29 Delaware public school students sat for the Exam in 2011 (comparatively, 572 students sat for the AP Calculus exam). Only 3 AP Computer Science students were Female and none were African American. Based on these findings, the Delaware STEM Council recommends a concentrated focus on Computer Science Education in the K-12 system. Historically, Computer Science was part of the math departments, but it no longer belongs in a math department any more than it belongs in a science department. The likely place for Computer Science today is within Technology Education which in Delaware is a subdepartment of the Career and Technical Education (CTE). Labor studies should sufficiently support career pathways for computer science. Building a Support Structure Offering challenging courses in STEM subjects is a critical beginning step in building a robust STEM Education system. Through the Race to the Top grant, the Delaware Department of Education is hosting teacher workshops during the summer for AP subjects, including AP STEM subjects. These workshops are free to all Delaware public K12 teachers and those who do not teach AP courses are encouraged to participate in order to be more aware of the expectations, the bar so to speak, to which we need to raise students. However, more needs to be done to build a strong support structure for the students we are counting on to pursue and attain STEM careers. As mentioned before, many STEM subjects are very challenging to most people. Efforts to inspire students to enter STEM fields are wasted if we make it easy for them to change their minds when the challenges appear insurmountable. STEM Education needs a support structure not unlike the supports we offer special needs students. Support that involves parents and guidance counselors, support that involves extra help during the school day, and supports that expect teachers of advanced math and science courses to apply best teaching practices. To this end, the Delaware STEM Council has four recommendations to support STEM students; STEM workshops for Guidance Counselors, an organized STEM Speakers Bureau (highlighting successful women and minorities in STEM fields), a Cadre of STEM Mentors, and an evaluation tool that identifies AP STEM teachers who recruit and advance their students. (see AP Effectiveness Ratio)


Figure 14 – Providing Support Structures within the STEM Pipeline

A Note on AP There has been a lot of reference to AP so far in this report. Keep in mind that AP is simply being used as a bar to indicate a level of STEM preparation. Until Delaware’s Institutes of Higher Education create clearly defined standards for STEM readiness, AP STEM courses are the only bar we have. The benefits are that it is also the same bar set at Concord High School at the top of the state to Cape Henlopen High School at the bottom and, as illustrated previously, the same bar used by thousands of other schools nationwide. The rising cost of college also makes the concept of advance placement a powerful motivator for students to enroll in the most challenging high school courses. With that said, let’s point out a few limitations of AP STEM and why it is an incomplete measure of a strong STEM Education system. First of all, AP STEM subjects are focused on an assessment where full accountability often falls on the shoulders of one teacher. This type of pressure will naturally contribute to the siloing of subjects by AP subject test. The focus on assessment leads to a focus on content that can be delivered most easily through lecture and textbook problems. As mentioned before, STEM subjects must emphasize more learning through processes like scientific inquiry and engineering design. In STEM subjects at the college level, this process oriented learning translates into an additional lab credit. That’s why many STEM courses are 4 credits and non-STEM courses are 3 credits. It’s difficult to see how sitting down to a 90 minute pencil and paper exam can capture those experiences critical to a STEM education. The risk for not getting a thorough STEM experience in high school is higher because subjects that make up a STEM major are very sequential as one builds upon another. For STEM subjects, AP really should be treated less as Advanced Placement and more like College Equivalence. The questions that remain are; how do we incentivize students to take 22

the most challenging STEM courses like AP if we don’t encourage them to take advanced credit, and how do we ensure that students are getting a process rich STEM education before college? Engineering Education One solution is to build a senior schedule for students preparing for a STEM major that includes AP Calculus, AP Physics, and an Engineering Lab. This Engineering Lab would serve multiple purposes including; exposing students to the engineering profession before college, giving students more time in a process oriented environment engaged in the engineering design process, giving students a practical application of the content learned in the AP STEM classes, giving student with often limited hands-on experiences greater knowledge of machines and tools, including their designs, uses, repair, and maintenance. Most important, such an engineering lab could facilitate the breakdown of the silos that exist between math and science departments and provide a pivotal piece to the support structure for students on the brink of giving up on STEM. The Delaware STEM Council recommends the adoption or creation of an Engineering Lab curriculum for High Schools. There are three places to begin looking for such a curriculum. One is the Engineering Design Labs found at Institutes of Higher Ed like Drexel, Penn State, the University of Maryland, and Virginia Tech which ties in the Calculus, Physics, Chemistry, and Programming freshmen Engineering students take in their introductory year. Another is a capstone course to a Technology Education CTE pathway called Processes of Design and Engineering currently being developed by the Delaware Department of Education. The third is the International Baccalaureate (IB) Design Technology courses which is an intensive two credit course for students in the IB Diploma Programme. This course was created by an international committee and touches on topics such as green manufacturing and electronic product design. The biggest challenge here is that traditionally, when there is a certain deficiency identified in the preparation of students moving on to the next level, a course (and sometimes a sequential pathway of courses) is placed in the education system along with specialized teachers. See Delaware’s recent graduation requirements surrounding World Languages as an example. Engineering however, is so complex in terms of both the knowledge and skills required, that a single course, pathway, or teacher can’t truly provide the education necessary to prepare students. For this reason, it is better to focus on a STEM Program of Study around an engineering theme with cross-curricular planning and alignment of the courses stated above and involving multiple teachers and departments. A student’s completion of a STEM Program of Study should receive state level recognition from the Delaware STEM Council, the Delaware Department of Education, and Delaware’s Institutes of Higher Education. Another approach to addressing Engineering Education is the one taken by Massachusetts. Massachusetts gave more autonomy to the schools on how to prepare students for a statewide Science and Technology/Engineering assessment on the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS). These exam include 15% on Technology/Engineering for 5th graders, 25% on Technology/Engineering for 8th graders, and 100% for 12th graders after exams in Chemistry and Physics in 10th and 11th grade. It may be worth pointing out that according to the results of the 2007 Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS), Massachusetts 4th graders ranked second worldwide in science achievement and tied for third in mathematics; the state's 8th graders tied for first in science and ranked sixth in mathematics.


STEM Skills Revisited As pointed out previously, a significant group of Delaware students must gain the STEM Knowledge necessary to be ready to fill STEM Occupations. It was also pointed out that a much larger portion of occupations will require Delaware students to have many of the similar STEM Skill sets required of STEM jobs. A number of recommendations have been made to fill this need including increased exposure of a broader STEM education to more students including computer science and physics. It was also discussed that the adoption of the National Common Core Standards, back-mapped from STEM readiness standards, will flesh out many of these necessary skill sets. Considering the strong correlations between math and the STEM subjects illustrated above, the Delaware STEM Council recommends that at least half of all Delaware students be ready for Algebra I by 8th grade and Calculus by 12th grade. This of course includes the in-school support structures described before. It should also resonate with the breaking down of silos between math and other departments that can provide relevance to the subject matter through practical applications. These practical experiences are most naturally found in Technology Education classes that stress complex problem solving in students-centered project-based environments using modern tools. The Delaware STEM Council recommends that all students be exposed to Technology Education (or Engineering and Technical Education – ETE) courses in Middle School years including 6th grade and that at least half take an introductory technology education course in High School. STEM Experiences Revisited In recognizing how the world is changing rapidly both technologically and economically, enough can’t be said for the importance of a STEM literate society. A strong STEM Education should be able to provide all students with the experiences that reinforce the abilities to communicate, collaborate across networks, access and analyze information, be adaptable, and persistent. If done well, STEM education can also contribute to the development of curiosity, creativity, imagination, and entrepreneurship. This would expose all students to a comprehensive education that includes the Arts as well as STEM. Sometimes referred to as STE(A)M, this education recognizes that the arts can often inspire students to become scientists and engineers and in many cases, future scientists and engineers sharpen some necessary skills through their experiences with the Arts. Examples include the guided risk taking found in student-centered studio environments in a ceramics course or the strict attention to detail and teamwork emphasized in preparing for musical performances. Ultimately, care should be taken not to deny STEM students from exposure to the arts or worse, sacrificing Art programs for STEM programs. STEM in Elementary Years This report could not be complete until we touched on the beginning end of the K12 spectrum. Elementary school students are natural engineers in the way they engage with the world around them. This engagement, often expressed in play, is a great opportunity to begin a STEM Education where students are working with tools, manipulating shapes, and figuring things out by learning from mistakes. Opportunities for these experiences must be encouraged as well as structured. As many may remember, unstructured play amongst elementary children can naturally start or even strengthen gender biases that can have detrimental consequences in encouraging female students to consider STEM careers.


Some of this will come from the engineering curriculum being infused into the Delaware Science kits. However, core elementary teachers are currently feeling a lot of pressure under the Race to the Top reform that is changing the way they teach reading, writing, and social studies, as well as math and science. There are clearly opportunities for the related arts to contribute to STEM or STE(A)M education as well. We also should not overlook the possible implementation of Technology Education in elementary years as some other states have done. Some schools and districts have dedicated the fifth special (the others being Music, Art, Library, and Physical Education), to computer lab time, but there’s no reason not to fuse the exposure to computers to exposure to technology education. In fact, a foundation based on the idea that technology is not just something you play with, but something you contribute to, would have a positive effect on the entire STEM education system and address the Computer based needs identified above. There are currently two potential sources for curriculum on Elementary Technology Education. One is I3 (Invention, Innovation, and Inquiry) and the other is STE(E)M (where the second E stands for Environment). Both curricula are endorsed by the International Technology and Engineering Education Association (ITEEA). The Delaware STEM Council recommends that Delaware’s Elementary schools offer structured technology education programming during the school day.



v o g . In order for Delaware to have the robust STEM education system that is worthy of national attention, it will need to demonstrate the ability to convey the importance of STEM education, the vision and purpose, clearly communicate with all constituents, and be responsive to employer needs and current educational research. This will require a web-based tool that can meet these demands. This STEM Education website must: -

Provide a compendium of evaluated STEM programs that are available to all Delaware schools and districts.


List contact information for point people in each school and district who are responsible for STEM education.


Facilitate partnerships that focus on STEM education between Businesses, Higher Ed, K12 systems, and non-profit organizations. These partnerships should include: o Internships & Co-op Programs o Experiential Learning Opportunities o Service Learning Opportunities o Cohort and Team Learning opportunities o Professional Development o Early Mentoring o Career Guidance o Academic Support.


Provide updated information on STEM education grant opportunities and assist grant writers of STEM education grants to make connections that address broader impact criterion.


Drovide current data and report cards on Delaware’s progress on bolstering STEM education.


CONCLUSION Though Delaware is currently just behind some of its neighbors in terms of the implementation of an education system that produces an adequate number scientists and engineers, its size makes it extremely agile. Combined with the invested businesses we already have, a dedicated comprehensive Higher Education network, and lessons learned from the current leading states in STEM education, Delaware can quickly sling-shot into a national leadership position. The overarching goals of the Delaware Stem Council reflect the importance of Delaware’s STEM Education System to address the needs associated with inspiring and supporting future scientists and engineers, producing a STEM capable workforce and ensuring systemic STEM literacy. Delaware’s STEM Education agility, which benefits from geographic location, size, resources, and history, is only as effective as the ability to convey the importance of STEM education, the vision and purpose, clearly communicate with all constituents, and be responsive to employer needs and current educational research.









APPENDIX Appendix I - AP Effectiveness Measure Current Challenges in Increasing Enrollment in AP Classes While Increasing Passing Rates on AP Exams In looking to raise standards to objectively high levels that are nationally recognized, many states, districts and schools are turning to programs such as Advanced Placement (AP). As these programs are implemented, the natural measures to gauge effectiveness are increases in enrollment (to ensure that more students have access to these programs), and increases in test scores (to ensure that these programs are not watered-down as more challenged students enroll). The difficulty in applying both of these measures at the same time is that they can sometimes conflict and force educators to focus on one over the other. Principals and Guidance Counselors tend to find increased enrollment as the measure that is easiest to increase while teachers and parents of “gifted” students will find it easier to raise test scores if the programs are sold as exclusive programs for only the best students. Despite the outcomes, both sides will blame low numbers of one metric as a consequence of efforts in raising them on the other metric. Consider this conflict on a larger stage. Many districts nationally are taking action to get their school’s name published amongst US News and World Report’s Best High Schools. To get on this list, a school simply needs to have its students take a lot of AP exams (but not necessarily pass them). On the flip side, students (and parent) are led to believe that passing scores of 3, 4, or 5 on AP exams is a guarantee that Colleges and Universities will grant free credit for the equivalent college level courses. However, as the number of AP exam takers has exploded over the years, the institutes of high education have become less convinced that students are truly taking the college equivalent course in a high school AP class, the quality of the teaching has come into doubt, and many colleges are no longer offering the credit. The Pressures on AP Teachers It is important to recognize the kinds of pressures an AP teacher encounters. Parents of students who seek out AP classes obviously have high expectations on how successful their children will be on the AP exam. The high academic level of difficulty can also be much higher than anything AP teachers have ever taught before. AP teachers were also among the first to be held accountable based on test scores and even in a world of increasing accountability, AP teachers still stand alone with their subject within their schools as there is seldom someone else in their department who can share the blame for low scores. And finally, when AP scores are good, most schools will display them proudly while the AP teacher is gently reminded to keep them high.


AP Potential and AP Expectancy Charts Through large amounts of data collected over a number of years, the College Board has connected how students have done on sections of the PSAT/NMSQT exams and AP Subject Exams. Through AP Potential, the College Board has provided schools with an online tool to help identify students who may be successful on an AP exam based on their PSAT scores. These identifiers are shown in the Expectancy Chart below which identifies seven AP Exams that have a strong correlation with the Math sub-score on the PSAT. Note that the correlation is around 0.5 which some may says is low. What is important however is that there is a correlation AND there are no guarantees on the outcome. In other word, students can surly move from the time they take the PSAT to when they take an AP exam. Subjects with a Higher Correlation with the PSAT Math Score AP Calculus AB Math >3 >4 80-76 96.4 86.4 75-71 94 78.6 70-66 87.8 65.1 65-61 77.1 48.2 60-56 61.9 31.2 55-51 45.8 18.1 50-46 29.1 9 45-41 17.7 3.9 40-36 8.1 1.5 35-31 3.6 0.8 30-26 3.4 25-20 Correlation =


AP Music Theory Math >3 >4 80-76 96.6 84.8 75-71 91.4 72.8 70-66 88 65.3 65-61 80.9 51.9 60-56 74.9 42.8 55-51 63.3 31.9 50-46 50 19.8 45-41 41.5 14 40-36 29.2 9.7 35-31 15.1 2.2 30-26 25-20 Correlation =


AP Calculus BC Math >3 >4 80-76 97.1 87.7 75-71 94 79.3 70-66 87.6 65.5 65-61 77.9 48.2 60-56 62.8 32 55-51 46 18 50-46 30.9 9.1 45-41 15.7 3.5 40-36 12.7 4.8 35-31 30-26 25-20 Correlation =


AP Physics B Math >3 80-76 93 75-71 88.6 70-66 80 65-61 66.1 60-56 49.5 55-51 33.4 50-46 18.6 45-41 9.2 40-36 2 35-31 30-26 25-20 -

>4 74.7 63.5 47.3 30.1 16.6 7.6 3.3 0.9 -

Correlation =


AP Chemistry Math >3 80-76 96.6 75-71 91.7 70-66 82.8 65-61 69 60-56 50 55-51 34.6 50-46 19.6 45-41 11.1 40-36 4.2 35-31 1.9 30-26 25-20 Correlation =

>4 84.3 72.2 56.3 37.4 20.9 11.1 4.8 2 0.6 0.599

AP Physics C: Mech Math >3 >4 80-76 95.3 85.6 75-71 90.1 73.4 70-66 81.2 56.1 65-61 66.2 36.9 60-56 45.1 19.3 55-51 26.2 9 50-46 11 3.7 45-41 4.4 1.7 40-36 35-31 30-26 25-20 Correlation =



AP Computer Science Math >3 >4 80-76 92.5 81.3 75-71 87.1 73.9 70-66 81.6 62.5 65-61 70.5 49.4 60-56 56 33.4 55-51 42.1 20.7 50-46 26.6 11.6 45-41 16.6 6.2 40-36 5.8 1.9 35-31 30-26 25-20 Correlation =


Effectiveness Ratio In identifying the conflicting issues stated above, in evaluating AP programs based on increased enrollment and increased test scores, there needs to be a new measure that achieves the same desired outcomes. Evaluation of these programs should fundamentally be based on how they move students forward and make sure that AP teachers are integral to the recruitment and retainment process. This can be done by looking at the ratio of the percentage of students in a class who pass the AP exam to the class’s average percent chance of passing the exam. If this ratio is greater than 1, the teacher was effective in moving students forward. Consider the two examples below: Example 1 Teacher A 5 Students

Teacher B 25 Students

PSAT predicts 93% average passing rate

PSAT predicts 60% average passing rate

100% Pass AP Exam

18 students (72%) pass AP Exam



Effectiveness = 93% = 1.07

= 60% = 1.20

In Example 1, Teacher B was likely dealing with a population that was fairly challenged by the AP course, probably had to spend more time after school working with the students and based on the passing percentage, this teacher might feel like the year was a little unsuccessful. However, if the school put emphasis on an effectiveness ratio, there is evidence that Teacher B got students to pass who certainly would not have without the their support and effective teaching. More importantly, Teacher A would know on day 1 that they could never have an effectiveness score higher than 1.07. In order to improve their score, they would have to recruit, retain and teach more than the 5 students currently in the class. Example 2 AP Calculus BC Teacher 25 Students (same students)

AP Physics C-Mechanics Teacher 25 Students (same students)

Average PSAT MATH score = 58

Average PSAT MATH score = 58

PSAT predicts 62.8% average passing rate

PSAT predicts 45.1% average passing rate

18 students (72%) pass AP Exam

13 students (52%) pass AP Exam



Effectiveness = 62.8% = 1.15

= 45.1% = 1.15


In Example 2, in might be easy to see why the AP Physics teacher would be concerned since only 52% of the students passed the exam. The teacher may even have doubts on their effectiveness to teach if 5 students were successful on the Calculus exam but not on the Physics exam. However, when we again look at the effectiveness ratio, we can see that both teachers were able to move students. The expectancy chart above illustrates that not all AP courses are developed with the same level of rigor, but the effectiveness ratio helps both teachers reconcile these differences when it comes to accountability and still take chances on students who’ve got a chance.


STEM Report  

First Report of the Delaware STEM Council

Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you