Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) knowledge and skills are essential for the workforce of the 21st century. With innovation and cutting-edge technology driving the local as well as the global economy, students must be proficient in these areas, as well as mastering work-related personal competencies, to be prepared for postsecondary education or careers.
However, there are many issues complicating STEM education in the schools. At the state level, priority shifts related to No Child Left Behind and the California High School Exit Exam have led to a strong focus on basic, core skills, often to the exclusion of other subjects. The state standards are broad, and teachers may not have the time, the knowledge, or the training to cover them in depth. Among students, knowledge and interest in STEM-related careers is low, particularly among populations already underrepresented in those industry sectors. Qualified teachers in mathematics and science are difficult to hire and retain. Textbooks are inaccurate or poorly conceived, and access to materials and tools can be problematic.
Obstacles, however, are also opportunities for improvement, and Silicon Valley's innovators have found a variety of innovative ways to supplement and support STEM learning in schools. Business and education in Silicon Valley have a strong history of working together, with current STEM-related programs ranging from teacher professional development to externships, career exploration and mentoring to science and engineering competitions, online tutoring to open-source textbooks. In this era of budget cuts and legislative mandates, partnerships with employers can provide schools with the resources (human, intellectual, and material) and support that they need to improve the STEM knowledge and skills of their students.
Silicon Valley Education Foundation's STEM initiative is working towards breaking down the obstacles and opening the doors for students. Read more about our initiative in the following pages.
Learn about our math program and how it prepares middle school students throughout Silicon Valley to succeed in algebra.
Discover how STEPS is preparing incoming ninth grade students for their first A-G science course in high school.
Learn how students throughout Silicon Valley are building critical math and science skills and preparing them for college and career success.
"It is imperative for us to develop a comprehensive strategy towards improving STEM curiculum and achievement."
- Dr. Michael Kirst, President, CA State Board of Education