• STEM programs in comprehensive schools that are not STEM focused. The majority of the nation’s schools are comprehensive, and thus they educate many of the students who go on to STEM careers. Many of these schools offer advanced coursework through the Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate Programs and other opportunities for highly motivated students.
Presenters reviewed research and perspectives on each of these school types.
Focusing on the students who are the most interested and able may be the best known way to emphasize STEM education in school—but even in the category of schools with selective admissions criteria there are many approaches.
Example: A Residential School in a High-Tech Region
The North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics was founded in 1980, and this residential school was the first of its kind, Todd Roberts explained.2 It serves 680 students in the 11th and 12th grades from every North Carolina district, and it also offers distance learning opportunities to an additional 800 students across the state. Admissions considerations include SAT scores, grades, and ambitious course taking. The school’s curriculum provides a special focus in mathematics, science, and technology, along with a full complement of academic study. Though not a part of the state’s public K-12 system, it is supported by the state and charges no fees to students. Since 2007 the school has been a constituent member of the University of North Carolina System. More than 7,000 students have graduated from the program to date, Roberts noted, and 60 percent have gone on to college study and careers in STEM fields.
A principal benefit of the program, in Roberts’ view, is that it provides students from every part of the state with the opportunity to pursue advanced learning opportunities and to do so with a group of students who are equally excited about science and mathematics. In response to a question, Roberts noted that the school has a program for identifying students before high school who might be interested in attending and preparing them either for applying to the school or succeeding elsewhere. The program promotes collaboration among the students—there is no class rank—and encourages all students to pursue opportunities to