Iowans have come to trust and depend on the independent assessment of Iowa STEM each year by the inter-university consortium of Iowa State University’s Research Institute for Studies in Education (RISE), University of Iowa’s Iowa Testing Program, and the University of Northern Iowa’s Center for Social and Behavioral Research (CSBR), lead organization.
Their 2014-15 report released on August 3 details through 326 pages of charts, graphs and narrative with an in-depth analysis of gains and opportunities. Impacts range from students to parents and teachers to communities. For example, 9 out of 10 teachers who participate in the STEM Council’s Teacher Externships program label it as the best professional development they have ever had. As for students, those who took part in STEM Scale-Up programs scored an average of 6 percentage points higher in mathematics and science on the Iowa Assessments. Iowans answering a telephone survey overwhelmingly believe that advancements in STEM will give more opportunities to the next generation. On top of that, the study found 376 new business-education partnerships formed through Iowa STEM programs last year.
A variety of additional indicators are monitored each year to complete the STEM story for Iowa. For example, four-year college degrees are up considerably, more students are taking Advanced Placement STEM courses, more high school teachers are getting their initial license in STEM areas and ACT-tested graduates are increasingly interested in STEM across all demographic subgroups including males, females, African Americans and Hispanics.
Although there is plenty to celebrate in the annual review of Iowa STEM, there are a number of opportunities to improve as well. The report provides STEM Council leaders with valuable, trustworthy feedback for charting the course ahead. To peruse the entire product of Iowa’s STEM evaluation triad, see http://iowastem.gov/sites/default/files/2014-15_Iowa_STEM_Evaluation_Report.pdf and direct any questions to Dr. Erin Heiden, project coordinator at the UNI Center for Social and Behavioral Research at Erin.Heiden@uni.edu.