The essential service of measuring effect of programming by the Governor’s STEM Advisory Council is provided by an inter-university consortium of Iowa State University’s Research Institute for Studies in Education (RISE), the University of Iowa’s Iowa Testing Programs (ITP) as well as their Center for Evaluation and Assessment (CEA) and the University of Northern Iowa’s Center for Social and Behavioral Research (CSBR) which leads the coordination. Results of their annual study for the fiscal year 2021 (academic year 2020-21) are now in, and the story depicted is mostly encouraging with a few challenges identified as well.
As shown by the chart above, the dedication of programmers to reach youth of diversity appears to be paying off with regard to Latino/a students while failing to show the same effect for Black/African American participation. Encouragingly, when compared to youth who did not take part in STEM, a higher percentage by +2 points of non-White STEM students met science benchmarks on the statewide student assessment while White STEM students were +1 better, suggesting STEM programming may contribute to closing the achievement gap among youth of diversity. Conversely, however, the percent meeting mathematics benchmarks were +1 for White students and no difference for non-White students, when compared to non-participants.
Increased student interest in STEM is a founding goal of the Council. Educators who worked with youth in STEM Council programs reported observing increased interest in STEM at a 73 percent rate. According to Iowa Testing Programs, youth in STEM programs expressed greater interest in STEM than their peers and 43 percent were “very interested” in working in Iowa someday compared to 35 percent of non-participants.
Among adult Iowans, a statewide public survey by the CSBR revealed steady growth in awareness of STEM to a rate of 72 percent, up from 49 percent six years ago. And among those surveyed, 95 percent think STEM should be a priority in their local school district while 29 percent do not think it is a priority with 12 percent unsure.
The full annual assessment report will be published later this summer. Direct any questions about the report to lead coordinator Dr. Erin Heiden at the UNI CSBR, Erin.Heiden@uni.edu.