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Shifting Expectations: Bringing STEM to Scale through Expanded Learning Systems

Date Added: 

April 10, 2013
Shifting Expectations article cover

This article by CBASS and TASC, which appeared in the Spring 2013 issue of the journal Afterschool Matters, presents a strategy and promising approaches for building science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) educational systems.

There is widespread consensus that improving our nation’s competitiveness in science fields urgently demands improved STEM education, particularly for underserved youth. As a result, policymakers, funders, and educators have led a call to stimulate the U.S. STEM pipeline. Recognizing that schools can’t do it alone, they have called for “all hands on deck” to boost STEM achievement, ignite passions in science, and expose students—particularly female and minority students—to STEM career possibilities.

Expanded learning opportunities, such as after-school and summer programs, are particularly well positioned to help address the STEM education crisis. A large percentage of youth participating in after-school programs are members of groups traditionally underrepresented in STEM fields. Additionally, the nature of these programs—featuring low student-to-staff ratios and opportunities for hands-on and project-based learning—makes them an ideal environment for inquiry-based informal science education. Nevertheless, high-quality STEM education does not seem to be happening at scale. Science education is not typically expected of programs in the way that art, music, and physical activity are. To address the STEM gap in expanded learning programs, expectations of programs must change and frontline staff must be supported with professional development in STEM.

Resource Type: 

Research Reports

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