Implementation of STEM at the District, School, and Classroom Level

Implementation of STEM at the District, School, and Classroom Level

Mary D. Strayhorn (Greene County Schools, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-6364-8.ch019

Abstract

At the district level of a school system, there are immense pressures to add value to the community as a whole. This is achieved through high test scores, graduation rates, and the production of a vital workforce that will propel the community financially. This is a daunting task when the rate of information growth is increasing exponentially faster than educators can adapt. Offering STEM education is an effective means of meeting this demand. This chapter will outline steps that will facilitate the implementation of STEM throughout a school district, school, and classrooms.
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Introduction

Felicia Strayhorn, Ed.S.- Greene County Schools School systems are held responsible for producing a quality workforce that will sustain and increase the economic health of the community. This is a daunting task when the rate of information growth is increasing exponentially faster than educators can adapt. Offering STEM Education is an effective means of meeting this demand. This chapter will outline steps that will facilitate the implementation of STEM throughout a school district, school, and classrooms.

At the district level of a school system, there is immense pressure to add value to the community. Some see this as the job of teachers and define value in terms of high test scores, graduation rates, and the production of a vital workforce that will propel the community financially. This pressure to enhance the community through the local education agency is a daunting task when the rate of information growth is increasing exponentially, faster than educators can adapt. Moreover, school districts cannot thrive without healthy revenue from property taxes; therefore, communities must sustain growth in employment in order to increase housing growth and education funding. This growth model makes the school district the foundation for the financial health of the community. Findings from a longitudinal study suggest that 42–44% of students that participate in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) in school have intentions to pursue a STEM-related career, which is double the national average for high-school graduates (Franco, Patel, & Lindsey, 2012). So, how does one convince district-level decision-makers to change the “tried and true” curriculum to include STEM Education? One way includes supporting a mind shift from the goal of high graduation rates to goals that seek to help all students graduate career- or college-ready, through STEM education that supports the needs of local business partnerships.

These business and education partnerships serve as the foundation for transforming school districts, and consequently the culture of the community, from the ground up. These transformations are necessary for states to respond to future educational and employment needs. The U.S. Department of Labor reported 8.8 million STEM-related job openings in May 2016 (Schiraldi, 2014). In my state of Tennessee, state employment predictions address the need for STEM occupations.

Tennessee will experience a robust growth of STEM occupations over the next several years. In 2012 there were 252,000 STEM employees. This level will increase to 295,000 in 2022. The 43,000 additional STEM jobs will account for 11% of the jobs added in the state through 2022. Additionally, STEM occupations are projected to increase at a more rapid rate than for all occupations in Tennessee. New STEM jobs as a whole are expected to grow at an annual rate of 1.6%, whereas on average all new jobs are expected to increase at an annual rate of 1.2%. Even more, healthcare STEM employment will increase by approximately 2% annually. (The Demand for STEM Occupations in Tennessee, 2014).

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