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High School-Level STEM Initiatives: State Support for STEM Mentoring and Real Work Internship Programs for Students

Why does it matter?
  • Providing state support for students to engage in real-life mentoring and intern programs gives them the valuable opportunity to see and understand what careers in STEM fields really look like.
  • Internship and mentoring programs can foster student interest in STEM fields, and provide them with valuable hands-on experience.
  • Students are exposed to STEM-related opportunities within their community, showing them that opportunities exist nearby, possibly combating "brain drain."

  • Highlights

    Eight states have established policies that provide state support for real-life mentoring or internships to high school students in the STEM fields.
  • A pilot program in Connecticut provides grants to establish self-perpetuating programs offering high school students job-shadowing and internships in science, mathematics or technology intensive businesses.
  • Kentucky's Science and Technology Council is responsible for enhancing high school students' interest in STEM subjects through industry internships, mentorships and career exploration.
  • Florida's career academies - which include schools focused on STEM and information technology - must include partnerships that provide for internships and externships.
  • Washington's director for mathematics, science and technology is responsible for creating and promoting student internships and apprenticeships.

  • Listed policies are in addition to state career technical/vocational education policies, tech-prep or school to work transition policies. Additionally, several states offer the opportunity for mentorships through their residential science and mathematics academies. These policies are not listed here unless specifically spelled out in statutes or regulations.

    Sources for all data points are accessible through this link.

    Methodology: This information was collected from state statutes, rules and regulations, and state education agency Web sites, and will be updated as new policies and programs are enacted.

    Last updated: June 2008

    This database was compiled by Kyle Zinth, policy analyst, ECS Information Clearinghouse. For questions, additions or corrections: 303.299.3673 or kzinth@ecs.org.

    State support for STEM mentoring and real work internship programs for students
    Connecticut Yes, 2006 legislation directed the the department of education to establish a "Generation Next" pilot program to provide industry-based job shadowing and internship experiences to high school students and externship experiences to teachers in the public schools. Authorizes the commissioner of education to award grants to local and regional boards of education, regional vocational-technical schools or business associations - in partnership with such boards of education or schools - for demonstration projects. Grants served as seed-money for programs, and all applicants must include in their applications an explanation on how the program will sustain itself following initial grant funds.

    Grants must be used for developing and implementing a coordinated high school level teacher externship and student job shadowing and internship program with science or mathematics or with technology intensive businesses in the state.
    Florida Yes, career academies enable students to simultaneously earn industry certification and a standard high school diploma. All career academies must provide a rigorous standards-based academic curriculum integrated with a career curriculum and include one or more partnerships with postsecondary institutions, businesses, industry, employers, economic development organizations or other appropriate partners from the local community.

    These partnerships must provide opportunities for:
  • Instruction from highly skilled professionals who possess industry-certification credentials for courses they are teaching.
  • Internships, externships and on-the-job training.
  • A postsecondary degree, diploma or certificate.
  • The highest available level of industry certification.
  • Maximum articulation of credits upon program completion.
  • Provide shared, maximum use of private sector facilities and personnel.

  • Career academies can be established in a number of career clusters, including:
  • Information Technology
  • STEM
  • Illinois Yes, the purpose of the High Technology School-to-Work Program is to increase the number of students exiting secondary and postsecondary schools that enter occupations and advanced educational programs that require advanced skills in the areas of science, mathematics, and advanced technology. The program provides grants to consortia of high technology businesses and local schools. Projects are designed by partnerships among employers, employer associations and schools to provide youth with work experience in high technology occupations, combined with closely related classroom instruction.

    Proposals must designate a private sector employer, or employer-based intermediary organization, to serve as the grantee. This will ensure that the employer side of the partnership has the final approval over all aspects of the project. Proposals must also demonstrate that a strong and cooperative relationship exists between the grantee and the school(s) that represent the educational side of the partnership.
    Kentucky Yes, among the responsibilities of the Kentucky Science and Technology Council is to coordinate, promote and support activities designed to develop additional learning experiences outside traditional classroom courses, to enhance interest in mathematics and science for high school students, including business and industry internships and mentorships and career awareness exploration.

    The department of education is responsible for promoting, supporting and assisting the council by:
  • Identifying middle and high school students who have a high interest, aptitude or achievement in mathematics, science and technology related courses, events and activities.
  • Participating with others in the administration of summer institutes, business and industry internships, career opportunities and other related experiences directed toward middle and high school students.
  • Encouraging representatives from business and industry to participate in the mentorship, internship, scholarship and career awareness components of the program.

  • New York Yes, the Science and Technology Entry Program (STEP) is designed to assist eligible students in acquiring the skills, attitudes and abilities necessary to pursue professional or pre-professional study in post-secondary degree programs in scientific, technical and health-related fields. Eligible students are secondary school students who are either economically disadvantaged or minorities historically underrepresented in the scientific, technical, health and health-related professions.

    Individual postsecondary institutions, or consortia of postsecondary institutions, may apply for grants to operate STEP programs. The curricula of these programs must emphasize the concrete aspects of the scientific, technical or health-related discipline as it relates to a professional career, through laboratories, relevant work experience opportunities or similar activities.
    Texas Yes, multiple provisions.

    Cooperative Program with Johnson Space Center (JSC)
    1999 legislation authorized the University of Houston to establish and coordinate a cooperative program with one or more school districts under which high school students may be employed by the university to work at NASA's JSC on a part-time basis during the school year or on a part-time or full-time basis during school holidays or vacations.

    The JSC is responsible for: (1) placing, supervising and evaluating each student who participates in the cooperative program; and (2) ensuring that the student performs work related to the study of science, mathematics or engineering to encourage students to study those courses after high school graduation at an institution of higher education.

    T-STEM Academies
    The 35 T-STEM academies include a mixture of charter schools, traditional public schools and schools operated in conjunction with an institution of higher education. All academies will begin at 6th grade and focus on the most challenged school districts and the most disadvantaged students across the state. Academies will include partnerships with employers to expose students to careers in STEM fields.

    Additionally, the Texas Academy of Mathematics and Science provides students with an awareness of mathematics and science careers and professional development opportunities through seminars, workshops, collaboration with postsecondary and university students including opportunities for summer studies and internships in foreign countries.
    Utah Yes, Mathematics, Engineering, Science Achievement (MESA) program is intended to increase the number of under-served minority and female students who pursue course work, advanced study and possible careers in STEM subjects. Approved activities that participating districts or schools may use state funds for include internships or work experiences in identified areas which may be encouraged by student stipends or academic credit or both.
    Washington Yes, 2007 legislation directed the superintendent of public education to provide support for statewide coordination for mathematics, science and technology education, including employing a statewide director for mathematics, science and technology. The duties of the director include developing and maintaining public-private partnerships to generate business and industry assistance to accomplish the creation and promotion of student internships and apprenticeships.


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