Iowa STEM Assessment: The Gold Standard

STEM Scale-Up Program, STEM subjects, STEM career, Iowa STEM Evaluation
A higher proportion of students who participated in a STEM Scale-Up Program said they were “very interested” in all STEM subjects and in pursuing a STEM career.

The external, independent, and transparent annual evaluation of Iowa STEM provides the Council, the legislature, investors, and STEM consumers the reliable evidence they need to gauge impact. Coordinated each year by the Center for Social and Behavioral Research at the University of Northern Iowa, findings are contributed by Iowa Testing at the University of Iowa, the Research Institute for Studies in Education at Iowa State University, and data centers at the Iowa Department of Education, Iowa Workforce Development, the Board of Regents, and others. Some analysis is performed in-house by staff of the Council as well.

The result is a 90-page compendium detailing return-on-investment. Last week the data from academic year 2021-22 arrived, and highlights include:

  • Students who took part in the Council’s Scale-Up programs between 2017 and 2021 who went on to an Iowa university declared STEM majors at a 47.7% rate, compared to peers opting for STEM at 37.6%.
  • When compared to their peers on the Iowa statewide assessment, STEM participants scored +2 percentage points higher on mathematics and +3 percent on science.
  • For minority students, +6 percent scored Proficient or Advanced in science and +5 percent in mathematics compared to their peers.
  • Participants in the STEM Scale-Up program were 7 percent more interested in living and working in Iowa when they graduate compared to peers.
  • 67 Iowa counties now have at least one STEM BEST school, more than two-thirds of which are in rural schools.
  • Nine in ten randomly surveyed adult Iowans feel that STEM should be a priority in their local schools, though only 44 percent believe it currently is a priority.

The annual report is the gold standard in state and regional assessment reporting. Many additional findings spanning geography, demography, and the economy of STEM education in Iowa, including less rosy trends around college readiness and equal access more generally, are detailed in the report posted at

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