Every student in California has exceptional middle and high school STEM teachers and experiences that propel them into college and beyond.
To us, truly serving every student means disproportionately focusing on the districts and schools serving our most untapped populations. We must ensure our students of color, immigrant students, students speaking languages other than English and female students, in particular, have consistent access to excellent STEM teachers and opportunities.
The “STEM crisis” in the United States continues to worsen: at the 2014 National STEM Summit, Vice President Joe Biden cautioned that more than one million new U.S. jobs requiring science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) skills in the next four years will be unfillable by American students. Currently, American 15-year-olds rank 27th in Math and 20th in Science among 34 countries[i], and of all American high school graduates, 69% aren’t ready for college-level science and 54% aren’t ready for college-level mathematics[ii].
At the same time, we are in the midst of a “teaching crisis” that has a critical effect on how prepared our students are to be successful in the sciences and how prepared our teachers are to get them there: Half of all teachers leave the profession within the first five years, and this rate is highest for math and science positions and in high poverty schools[iii]. Women – who make up more than half the teaching workforce in middle and high schools – hold fewer than 15% of all undergraduate engineering degrees[iv] and are choosing STEM majors and careers in decreasing numbers[v]. With half of all current teachers in the U.S. retiring in the next five years[vi] and teacher turnover costing America $7.3billion annually[vii], the “STEM teaching crisis” is of major proportion.
Teachers in K-12 classrooms must be better supported in lighting fires in students’ hearts and minds that fuel them toward careers in the sciences. If a student goes to college and chooses to major in Philosophy or Art, it must not be because he never thought he was “good at math,” was never exposed to programming, or never did anything interesting in a science class. Given teachers are the most important factor in what and how a student learns[viii], and given all that we know about the effective recruitment, preparation, and on-going support of teachers, we can do much, much better.
The vision of trellis is to do just that.
[iii] Kelly (2004); Fantilli & McDougall (2009); Ingersoll & Smith (2004); IES (2008)