Report: Climate change literacy, early childhood focus shaping STEM in 2020

January 24, 2020

Among one of the major concerns highlighted by 100kin10 ​— a national network of organizations and agencies hoping to train and retain 100,000 STEM teachers by 2021 — was the lack of teachers of color overall, with the report noting people of color make up half of the student population but less than 20% of teachers. The gap is specifically pronounced in STEM.

Because students of color perform better and have better long-term outcomes when they have at least one teacher of color, the message, the organization said, should be that “to increase student engagement and success in STEM, students of color need to see STEM teachers who look like them.”

Another way to increase outcomes for students, the report noted, begins with STEM instruction in early childhood education. In fact, experts agree that early exposure to STEM, beginning even before kindergarten, is critical to setting students on the path toward long-term educational outcomes.

An increasing number of schools are even integrating computer science into their curricula as a way to prepare students for the workforce, with 40 states so far passing policies to support the subject in the classroom.

But, there continues to be a disconnect isolating rural schools from STEM opportunities, with the report noting STEM teachers in rural communities often experience isolation and lack opportunities for professional learning. Partnerships between university programs and rural schools could help bridge this gap, and the report said point to examples in North Carolina, North Dakota, Colorado and Maine.

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