Iowa’s STEM Council practices what it preaches when it comes to data-driven decision-making. Measures of performance enable an annual cycle of continuous improvement to engineer new ways for moving forward.
Every year, an inter-university evaluation triad led by the University of Northern Iowa’s Center for Social and Behavioral Research (CSBR) and including Iowa State University’s Research Institute for Studies in Education (RISE) and the University of Iowa’s Iowa Testing Program conducts an independent assessment of Iowa STEM.
Over the course of year five, Iowa STEM showed great progress in the 306-page Iowa STEM Evaluation Report, including:
- Students who participated in the STEM Scale-Up Program scored an average of seven percentage points higher in National Percentile Rank on the Iowa Assessments in mathematics, six percentage points higher in science and four percentage points higher in reading.
- The percent of students who said they were very interested in someday working in Iowa was 45 percent of STEM Scale-Up Program participants compared to 39 percent of students statewide.
- Nine in 10 Iowans thought STEM education should be a priority in their local school districts, but only 46 percent said they think it actually is a priority.
The assessment team also looks at the status of STEM in Iowa using indicators like graduates with STEM degrees, enrollment numbers, ACT data and more. This year’s key indicators show that: 55 percent of students aspire to a STEM bachelor’s degree compared to 49 percent five years ago (ACT, Inc.); more students have taken Advanced Placement (AP) courses in STEM; and more teachers have received a STEM-related teaching endorsement.
While these measurable successes give Iowa STEM a reason for celebration, the report also provides areas for improvement that equip the STEM Council to set a course for the years ahead.
Story first published in August 2016 newsletter on Wednesday, August 31, 2016