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STEM—the catchy shorthand for "science, technology, engineering and mathematics"—has been part of the school improvement discussion for more than a decade, as educational leaders and policy makers have underscored the importance of these areas in preparing students for an internationally competitive, 21st-century economy.

 

At Hillsborough County Public Schools in Tampa, Fla., college readiness is a districtwide goal for all students. With a diverse mix of over 190,000 students, the nation's eighth-largest school district turned to the College Board for help.

 

Educators at Sweetwater High School in National City, Calif., found themselves in a bind a few years ago. The school had been designated a "Program Improvement" institution under the No Child Left Behind Act, so changes had to be made.

 

PROBLEM

The average score for eighth-graders on the latest National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAE P) was the highest ever, but only 39 percent scored at or above the proficient level (Lee, Grigg, & Dion, 2007). Even fewer high school seniors (23 percent) were proficient (Grigg, Donahue, & Dion, 2007). “The sharp falloff in mathematics achievement in the U.S. begins as students reach late middle school, where, for more and more students, algebra course work begins,” the National Mathematics Advisory Panel said in 2008 in its final report.

 
 







 







 

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