Recently STEM Education has seen an increasing amount of attention both on the national scene and especially here in Massachusetts. There will be a strong push towards improving our students’ performance in STEM fields in order to grow a workforce capable of meeting the demands of the future. The current gap between where we are in STEM education and where we want to be in the next decade is quite large. The reasons for this gap are many and establishing just how pertinent each issue is to bridging that gap is best described as an elusive task. Mass Insight Education is an organization that has recently sponsored the Mass Math & Science Initiative (MMSI). The MMSI is a program that has made great strides in improving STEM Education in a relatively short period of time. The issues at hand are access, expectations, participation and performance.
MMSI focuses its efforts on offering Advanced Placement courses in grades 6-12, a special emphasis is given to students of underrepresented populations such as minorities and low-income families. The strategy is simple but effective, schools offer access to advanced courses which sets a level of high expectation on students who are encouraged by tutors and rewarded for their success. Along with these efforts, teachers are trained to teach college level prep-courses which in turn enables them to reach out to many more middle-school and high-school students.
The results speak for themselves as 4,000 new AP students and 1,000 more qualifying AP scores in Science, English and Math have been recorded in MMSI participating schools since 2008. With regard to under-served populations on a national scale, a quote from Mass Insight Education,
“The 67 schools in the new National Math and Science Initiative on AP are great examples of the power of quality instruction, more time spent on task, and rigorous, content-focused teacher training. The MMSI schools are having phenomenal success in raising AP scores among minority students. In the single year of implementation to date, the number of African American and Latino students who scored a 3 or higher on AP exams in math, science, and English, jumped more than 70 percent. ” Arne Duncan, Secretary of Education.
A lot has been made about the ineffectiveness of so many educational programs, which is why it’s so important to take notice when an organization such as Mass Insight steps up and provides a great model system such as MMSI for others to take up on their own. If you have any questions or comments, please contact us at http://massacademysciences.org/
Written by: Matthew Panechelli