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High School-Level STEM Initiatives: State Programs Targeted at STEM Achievement Among Female, Low-Income and Minority Students

Why does it matter?
  • Members of certain ethnic minority groups and women have been historically underrepresented among those who earn STEM degrees and go on to careers in the STEM fields.
  • The nation is becoming ever more ethnically diverse; large increases are expected in the proportion of the population from the very groups that are historically underrepresented.
  • Quality classes in the STEM subjects can be expensive, and districts with high concentrations of low-income students may have difficulty providing these opportunities without state aid.
  • Programs targeted towards these students in high school (or earlier) have the potential to open up the possibility of careers in STEM fields and change the educational and occupational trajectories of participants.

  • Underscoring the importance of STEM education for the nation's minorities, recent research from Public Agenda finds that minority children are more likely to:
  • View mathematics and science skills as absolutely essential for future success.
  • Believe it is a serious problem that students are not being taught enough mathematics or science.
  • Support increasing mathematics/science education to improve high school education.


  • Highlights:
    Twelve states have established policies that are targeted towards female, low-income or minority students. Examples of these policies vary from Texas' T-STEM academies - specialized schools focusing on STEM subjects with the majority of their populations being high-need students - to the Mathematics, Engineering, Science Achievement (MESA) program, which is intended to increase the number of underserved minority and female students who pursue course work, advanced study and possible careers in STEM subjects. (MESA exists at the programmatic level in many states. For the purposes of this database, only MESA programs established through statute or regulation are listed.)

    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 programs targeted at STEM achievement among female, low-income and minority students
    California Yes, the Mathematics, Engineering, Science Achievement (MESA) program is designed to enable educationally disadvantaged students to prepare for and graduate from a four- year college or university with a mathematics-based degree. To the extend possible by state law, MESA emphasizes participation by students from groups with low eligibility rates for four-year institutions. MESA partners include the University of California, the California State University, California Community Colleges, independent colleges and universities, the department of education, community-based education centers, school districts and individual schools. (Program initially existed in legislation, although that legislation has since been repealed.)
    Colorado Yes, 2007 legislation creates the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) after-school education pilot grant program. Eligible programs are after-school educational activities and competitions focused on STEM that operate at least weekly during the school year in a public school. Nonprofit corporations may apply to be providers and receive funds to defray administrative and personnel costs associated with coordinating the program.

    Fifty percent of students in approved programs must be members of gender and racial groups underrepresented in STEM fields.
    Delaware Yes, the Engineering and Applied Science Recruitment fund is designed to support recruitment of women and underrepresented minorities into engineering and applied science programs at state institutions of higher education.

    To be eligible for funds, programs must:
  • Encourage parental involvement.
  • Coordinate with public schools and postsecondary institutions.
  • Involve participants beginning in 7th grade.

  • Currently, the state commission on higher education provides funds to two programs, Forum for the Advancement of Minority Engineers (FAME) and Minority, Engineering, Regional, Incentive, Training (MERIT).

    FAME serves 7th-12th grade students in New Castle and Kent Counties. FAME is a pre-college engineering program that prepares and motivates minority students to enter and complete a baccalaureate of science program in engineering, math and science. Since its inception, over 400 students have graduated from the program with 70% entering colleges to pursue technical careers.

    MERIT focuses on academics, particularly science, engineering and college preparation. Students are nominated for participation by their school guidance counselors as early as 6th grade, and through MERIT are provided with assistance and guidance in gaining financial support for postsecondary studies. MERIT consists of:
  • A science club which meets ever other Saturday morning during the school year.
  • A three-week summer enrichment program of intensive preparation in mathematics, computer and communications skills.
  • An engineering-related field trip.
  • A mandatory residential campus experience for older students.
  • Family social gatherings.

  • Florida Yes, multiple provisions.

    College Out-Reach Program (CROP)
    CROP seeks to
    motivate and prepare educationally disadvantaged, low-income students in 6th-12th grades to pursue and successfully complete a postsecondary education. Participants are students who otherwise would be unlikely to seek admission to postsecondary institutions without special support and recruitment efforts. Among CROP's services are academic preparation in subjects assessed by the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test, which includes mathematics and science.

    Educational Equity
    As part of the state's educational equity plan, public schools and community colleges are required to develop and implement methods and strategies to increase the participation of underrepresented students in programs and courses in which those students have been traditionally underrepresented, including mathematics, science, computer technology, electronics, communications technology and engineering.

    Florida Center for Mathematics and Science Education Research
    2006 legislation created a grant program to establish a center at a university in the state with the purpose of increasing student achievement in mathematics and science, with an emphasis on K-12 education. Among the center's duties is to develop a comprehensive plan - with input from school districts - to increase the number and percentage of females and minority students enrolling in and successfully completing mathematics and science courses. The grant was awarded to Florida State University, which named the center the Florida Center for Research in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.
    Illinois No, although when awarding grants under the High Technology School-to-Work Program, the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity must evaluate grantee efforts to recruit female and minority students into the project.
    New Jersey Yes, the College Bound Grant Program is targeted towards 6th-12th graders in Abbott School Districts. Grants support pre-college educational enrichment activities to help ensure completion of secondary school; to increase college admission, retention and graduation rates of these students; and to encourage the successful pursuit of postsecondary education in the sciences, mathematics or technology.

    Statewide, the programs serve over 2,000 students. A total of $3.55 million was appropriated for College Bound in Fiscal 2008. The programs are housed at nine colleges and universities.
    New Mexico Yes, 2007 S.B. 422 created the Alliance for Underrepresented Students at New Mexico State University. The purposes of the alliance include collaborating with and providing assistance to k-12 grade educators to support STEM education and student achievement.

    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, 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. Additionally, programs will provide participating students with personal, career and financial aid counseling to ensure that the students are fully aware of the opportunities and necessary preparations for professional careers in scientific, technical or health-related fields.
     
    Ohio Yes, 2007 legislation authorized the creation of targeted STEM schools that will offer a rigorous, diverse, integrated and project-based curriculum to students in any of 6th-12th grades that do all of the following:
    • Emphasize the role of STEM subjects in promoting innovation and economic progress.
    • Incorporates scientific inquiry and technological design.
    • Include the arts and humanities.
    • Emphasize personalized learning and teamwork skills.
    Approved schools are required to assert their best effort to attract a diverse student body that reflects the community, and schools must recruit students from disadvantaged and underrepresented groups.
    Texas Yes, multiple provisions

    T-STEM Academies
    The newly established 35 T-STEM academies include a mixture of charter schools, traditional public schools and schools operated in conjunction with an institution of higher education. Academies are non-selective with the majority of their populations being high-need students. All academies either include 6th-12th grades or actively work with feeder middle schools. Academies also include partnerships with employers to expose students to careers in STEM fields, and will create university or college partnerships for mentoring, fostering a college-going culture and the provision of college-level courses/dual credit.

    Engineering and Science Recruitment Fund
    The Engineering and Science Recruitment Fund supports the recruitment of women and ethnic minorities into engineering and science programs in higher education institutions. In 2007-08, grants will be awarded to four entities to help fund 17 projects designed to support the recruitment of women and minorities into these fields and to assist them in preparing for, or participating in, programs leading to an undergraduate degree in engineering or science from a university or college.
    Utah Yes, state provides grants to enable districts and schools to operate Mathematics, Engineering, Science Achievement (MESA) programs. State law dictates that available at-risk funds are to be used to support MESA programs. MESA 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 courses include secondary courses that place targeted students on a college preparation track for post high school opportunities in mathematics and science, and may include concurrent enrollment opportunities or AP classes.

    Approved MESA activities include:
    • After-school guest presenters.
    • Tutoring sessions, particularly in mathematics and science, including study aids.
    • Field trips.
    • Practical activities designed to introduce students to career possibilities, curriculum options or additional courses of study.
    • Meaningful experiences and opportunities to discuss career opportunities in mathematics, engineering, and science, including teaching in these fields as a potential career.
    • Academic service-learning designed to address school interest and attendance issues as well as to introduce targeted students to STEM-related businesses/activities, science and opportunities for high school and post-secondary classes and the future.
    • Internships or work experiences in identified areas which may be encouraged by student stipends or academic credit or both.
    • Science fairs.
    • Mathematics competitions.
    • Extracurricular mathematics or science activities.
    Washington Yes, multiple provisions.

    Mathematics, Engineering and Science Achievement (MESA)
    MESA is designed to increase the number of people from under-represented groups in STEM subjects. Students are targeted in grades 6-12 in hopes that they acquire the necessary skills for higher education in these STEM fields. Students are also given information regarding potential career opportunities in STEM-related areas. The program encourages students in the targeted groups to acquire the academic skills needed to study mathematics, engineering or related sciences at an institution of higher education. Through MESA's activities, participating students receive educational enrichment experiences and practical help needed to prepare for university-level studies in a variety of science and technology related fields.

    Director for Mathematics, Science and Technology
    2007 legislation directed the state superintendent of public instruction to employ a statewide director for mathematics, science, and technology. The duties of the director include supporting a public-private partnership to provide enriching opportunities in mathematics, engineering, and science for underrepresented students in K-12th grades using exemplary materials and instructional approaches.
    Wisconsin Yes, the state awards grants to school districts to develop innovative instructional programs in STEM subjects that support pupils who are typically underrepresented and increase their academic achievement in those subjects. Additionally, the state provides minority pupils scholarship awards for precollege programs that include "special experiences" such as computer camps and workshops in in subjects such as mathematics and science.


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