STRENGTHENING K-12 STEM EDUCATION

Our K-12 strategy focuses on critical intersections in science and STEM education. In order for Washington students to succeed, we must take a multifaceted approach to systems change.

STRENGTHENING K-12 STEM EDUCATION

Our K-12 strategy focuses on critical intersections in science and STEM education. In order for Washington students to succeed, we must take a multifaceted approach to systems change.
Tana Peterman, Senior Program Officer

Overview

For Washington students to thrive, especially those who have been historically underrepresented in the STEM fields ¬– students of color, students from low-income backgrounds, girls and young women, and rural students – our K-12 systems must do more to provide the necessary educational and career experiences that lead to family-wage jobs and careers.

We believe that Washington students have a civil and legislative right to graduate STEM literate. STEM literate individuals are critical thinkers and consumers of information, able to use concepts from science, technology, engineering, and mathematics to understand complex problems and to solve them with others. A high quality STEM education in our K-12 systems is essential for all students in our state to develop STEM literacy.

Washington STEM is committed to attending to and supporting all parts of the K-12 continuum through strategic partnerships, advocacy at the state and regional level, and the use of smart, contextualized data that leads to informed decision making.

What We’re Doing

Partnership with Washington State LASER (Leadership and Assistance for Science Education Reform):

  • We work with Washington State LASER to provide equity-centered science/STEM leadership development in the areas of school/district strategic planning, student pathways curriculum and instructional materials, assessment (including student voice), and administrator and community engagement. LASER works on these system levers to create the ecosystem for students to become informed and thriving global citizens and help lead to successful STEM careers if that is a path they choose. As a statewide network of science/STEM education leaders, LASER engages in sustained professional learning on issues of equity in science/STEM education and how to address barriers with schools and districts.

Supporting Dual-Credit Enrollment

  • Dual credit courses provide valuable educational experiences for high-school students and help cultivate a solid foundation for learning and career preparation, all while obtaining college credit and meeting high school graduation requirements. Washington STEM supports equitable dual-credit through both policy and practice efforts. Since 2020 we have participated in the Statewide Dual Credit Taskforce, working with state agencies, institutions of higher education, and K-12 to research and develop policy recommendations that support equitable dual credit enrollment and completion. We also work with educators across the K-12 and high education sectors to curate, analyze and act on available data to improve enrollment and completion of dual credit coursework. Our new Equitable Dual Credit Toolkit, created in partnership with Eisenhower High School and OSPI, was designed to help practitioners explore the driving questions behind disparities in dual credit participation. The toolkit highlights key opportunities and potential strategies to improve equity in dual credit participation.

Developing data tools

  • In order for students in Washington to make smart decisions about their future in STEM, they and their adult supporters need to know what jobs will be available in their own backyard, which jobs pay living and family-sustaining wages, and which credentials will help ensure that they are competitive for those jobs. Washington STEM has developed a free interactive data tool, the Labor Market Credential Data Dashboard, to provide that data.

Coming in 2022…

  • In our 2022-2024 Strategic Plan, we outline a plan to better understand systemic issues with the STEM teaching workforce. We will work to identify ways we can contribute our partnership, direct support, and policy expertise to diversify the STEM teaching workforce and address regional workforce shortages.