Representatives from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, the National Math + Science Initiative (NMSI) and local school districts reported to the State Board of Education on Tuesday about a shared goal for a greater rate of Missouri students completing advanced placement science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) courses.
With studies showing that the United States may be short as many as three million high-skilled workers by 2018, NMSI aims to grow interest in STEM at an early age for students, allowing them to succeed in rigorous math and science courses. For grades 3-12, NMSI provides content-based, teacher-to-teacher coaching to improve the quality of STEM instruction, with the program also expanding the number of traditionally underrepresented students achieving at high levels. NMSI funds target open enrollment incentives, extensive teacher and student support, weekend study sessions, assistance with exam fees, classroom equipment and supplies and awards for achievement.
“We are focused on improving measurable outcomes in math and science,” Marcus Lingenfelter, Vice President of State and Federal Programs for NMSI said. “When we make decisions on sites, we look at district and building leadership, and we have been extraordinarily pleased with the leaders we have had the pleasure of working with in Missouri.”
At the local level, Missouri school districts have received financial grants from NMSI to build upon current progress. On Sept. 29, the Knob Noster R-VIII school district was presented a $400,000 check as part of a Department of Defense (DOD)-funded grant from NMSI to implement a college readiness program in the district during a presentation at Whiteman Air Force Base.
“One of our goals in the Top 10 by 20 program is to ensure that all graduates are prepared and ready for success when they graduate,” Commissioner of Education Margie Vandeven said. “Initiatives like these move us closer to that goal. Students are provided exposure to deeper learning found in advanced courses taught by highly trained teachers in their familiar high school settings.”
Previously, NMSI awarded $300,000 over a three-year period to the Waynesville R-IV school district, which directly impacts dependents of the Fort Leonard Wood U.S. Army installation. Students in that district saw a 260% increase in math, science and English advanced placement qualifying scores in just the second-year following the NMSI grant.
“We realize that for the Army’s continued investment in our community, the education has to be top quality,” Waynesville R-IV Superintendent Brian Henry said. “NMSI provides students in a rural area the same opportunities as their peers in school districts across the state.”
NMSI’s role with Missouri education supports the Department’s Top 10 by 20 campaign, which aims for student achievement in Missouri to rank among the top 10 states by 2020.