STEM by the Numbers: Access and Opportunity

New Washington STEM report series uncovers systemic gaps in student opportunity; offers bold agenda to close the gaps


June 27, 2018–Washington STEM released today the executive summary of their new report series STEM by the Numbers: Equity and Opportunity. Within the report, Washington STEM sets a bold goal: to work with statewide partners to triple the number of students of color, students from low-income and rural families, and young women who are on track to receive high-demand credentials and enter family-sustaining careers in the state.

STEM by the Numbers demonstrates that while the most direct path to a family-sustaining career in Washington state is through a STEM postsecondary credential, too many Washington kids – especially students of color, students from low-income and rural families, and young women – experience more roadblocks than green lights on that pathway,” said Caroline King, CEO of Washington STEM. “Washington STEM and our regional STEM Networks are doing what it takes to get kids excited early on about STEM and then supported along their pathway to postsecondary education, be it an apprenticeship, a four year-degree, or a technical degree.”

The report’s executive summary examines system-wide indicators demonstrating where students face gaps in opportunity in their path to attaining a postsecondary credential that leads to a family-sustaining job and begins to present regionalized solutions to closing these opportunity gaps. The report marks the first time all of these indicators have been analyzed together, allowing Washington STEM to identify regional-level gaps in the STEM education ecosystem. A few highlights from the executive summary:

  • There will be an approximately 25,000-person gap between credential earners and family-sustaining jobs in 2030 that will require credentials.
  • 67 percent of the family-sustaining jobs needing credentials available in 2030 will be in STEM fields.
  • Over 300 local leaders from 10 regional STEM Networks and King County partners helped identify regionally-specific credential goals what will meet the unique needs of the students, communities, and employers in each region.
  • Washington STEM examined four key indicators of student success: Ready for Kindergarten – Math; 3rd Grade Math; Dual Credit, and Credential Attainment. Our analysis focuses on students underserved by the current system to highlight the places in the system that need improvement.
  • We must advocate to the state for key cross-sector longitudinal data that would inform regionally-specific solutions for students.
  • There are bright spots of innovation and opportunity in every region of the state that involve business, education, government, and community partnerships.
  • A focus on early STEM and education connected with career pathways will provide students the early foundation they need as well as real-world opportunities that give them inspiration and experience with Washington’s careers.

“When the report series is complete, communities will have data that builds a clear road map down to the level of how many additional students per high school we must support in entering postsecondary credential programs in order to close the opportunity gap,” said Dr. Jenée Myers Twitchell, the report’s author and Impact Director at Washington STEM. “The old adage ‘what gets measured gets done’ is the philosophy for STEM by the Numbers.”

Over the past two months, Washington STEM engaged in a 14-stop road show of Washington state, enganging in conversations about region-by-region cross-sector data with community leaders. Washington STEM previewed the executive summary of the report last night at an evening event at the Northwest African American Museum attended by over 100 business, community, and education leaders from across the state.

Dr. Sheila Edwards Lange, President of Seattle Central College and keynote speaker at the release event, stated “Data provided by this team has informed my decision to invest in STEM and IT programs at Seattle Central to ensure our diverse student base is well prepared to benefit from the opportunities available in our growing economy.”

Washington STEM is creating the report series with its ten regional STEM Networks as well as King County partners. Over the next six months, Washington STEM will roll out region-by-region analyses of key indicators and strategies for success. These analyses will be available on