STEM Mindedness: STEM for All
Inclusive practices (STEM for all) in a STEM school ensures gate-keeping processes are fair, course offerings are comprehensive and all students receive support to achieve success in STEM.
Supports All Students
One dimension of inclusion is that STEM schools encourage and support all students equally in their pursuit of STEM careers. This type of inclusion is most prominent at open-access schools—programs that service all students without restrictions. These types of STEM schools should be acutely aware of their underserved and at-risk students, providing them with equal opportunities to succeed.
Fairness in "Gate-Keeping"
A second dimension of inclusion in STEM education is fairness in "gate-keeping." Elite STEM schools accepting only highly motivated students with a record of high achievement should have an unbiased assessment process in place to select students using multiple measures of assessment. In the same way, other STEM schools offering gifted and advanced courses should have a similar system in place to ensure student selection into those courses is inclusive.
A third dimension of inclusion in STEM education is comprehensive STEM offerings. Georgetown University's Center on Education and the Workforce STEM Report states, "The STEM supply problem goes beyond the need for more professional scientists, engineers and mathematicians." The authors of the report note that the demand for STEM knowledge, skills and abilities is growing rapidly across workforce clusters. The reality of the job marketplace is that there are millions of jobs for STEM-capable people in manufacturing, finance, technical fields, agriculture and other industries.
STEM schools are inclusive by providing a broad vision for the world of STEM career opportunities. Schools should consider job trends and offer not only classes serving those students striving for "pinnacle" STEM careers, but also those in historically "vocational" fields.
STEM Capable Citizens
Finally, inclusion (STEM for All) is as much about citizenship as it is about college and careers. Every individual ought to be STEM-capable enough to make good decisions in life and in the voting booth. Further, all students should possess 21st Century skills, be computer literate and comfortable with a certain degree of technology.
While schools may offer specialty learning opportunities or focus on specific kinds of learners, all STEM-minded schools can honor the inclusion principle (STEM for all) by ensuring opportunities for college, careers and citizenship are equitable and appropriately STEM-focused.
S²TEM Centers SC is an innovation partnership managed by South Carolina’s Coalition for Mathematics & Science. Its purpose is to serve South Carolina by growing the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) possibilities and capabilities of learners and leaders.
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