CSTEMbreak, Social Network For Teachers and Students is On The Rise

Social-network

In the 21st Century, social networking spaces are permeating work places and learning environments; and we are not simply talking about the popular mainstream social networks like Facebook.  Teachers and students are more likely to seek out platforms that support the establishment of networks that offer the privacy, safeguards, peer-to-peer connections, teacher to student connections, and parental and business community engagement.  Furthermore, social network platforms in education ought to support resource sharing that meets specific instructional needs, conclusions drawn based on my experience with thousands of teachers and students across the globe.

While a lot of teachers and students are on Facebook, similarly useful for keeping in touch with peers and connections is CSTEMbreak.  A social network for teachers and students that engages and supports the sharing of information around STEM learning, research, projects, scholarships, and internships as well as career and workforce opportunities.  In this environment the teachers and students interact while maintaining their perspective roles along the education continuum.

Over the past five years, educators’ use of popular networks like Facebook and Twitter has increased overall, as has their use of platforms like CSTEMbreak.  However, one area of challenge is the inability of school systems to evolve with technology, preventing the use of social networks for education.  As a result, more teachers and students are inhabiting the internet on educational social networks via mobile technology instead of desk or laptop computers at school.  In this way— teachers, students, and other communities continue to experiment and socialize over online networks, enriching their experiences in work places and learning environments.

Dr. Reagan Flowers named in 100 Women in STEM

Dr. Reagan Flowers named in 100 Women in STEM

June 27, 2012 – In celebration of women role models in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM),  STEMconnector™  is ready to unveil the hard copy and online versions of its inaugural 100 Women Leaders in STEM publication. With this publication, STEMconnector’s™ goal is to advance the cause of attracting more girls and women to STEM careers as our country´s economy relies more than ever on a prepared STEM workforce. Major credit is due to these 100+ women leaders who are paving the way for millions of women and girls in the STEM education pathway to STEM careers as we move beyond the 25% of women in STEM fields, according to Edie Fraser, CEO, STEMconnector™.

100 Women Leaders in STEM showcases the careers and initiatives of more than one hundred women leaders who are active role models for the underrepresented segment of women in America’s growing shortage of STEM professionals.  The publication features profiles of leaders in the corporate, government and nonprofit sectors, including CEO´s, Presidents and key public officials, including four US Senators and the EPA / NASA Administrator and Deputy Administrator respectively. (See complete list below).  Also included are Opinion Editorials featuring interesting data and perspectives about women in STEM. Commentary included is from the Society of Women Engineers; Abt Associates / TERC; Center for

Energy Workforce Development; American Association of University Women; Girls, Inc; National Science Foundation; US News and World Report; The American Institute of Architects, Aerospace Industries Association and Bayer USA Foundation.

Featured in 100 Women Leaders in STEM is Dr. Reagan Flowers, Founder and CEO of CSTEM Teacher and Student Support Services™, Inc. She is honored for her pragmatic understanding of effective STEM education reform in classrooms, which has been instrumental in developing curricula that remain focused on teacher development and student engagement in STEM.  “Nationally, ethnic-minorities and females are underrepresented in many STEM industries, which limit their participation in a variety of well-paid, high growth professions. It is through targeted efforts that women leaders are able to take advantage of the rich diversity of perspectives and inspiration that drives the very important work we do as role models and developers of the next generation of STEM leaders,” says Dr. Flowers.

Other women included in 100 Women Leaders in STEM share stories about their commitment to serving as mentors and sponsors of those who are next in the STEM jobs pipeline. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand says, “We need you and we need this generation of women to stand up and serve as role models to encourage young women to develop the critical skills needed for the competitive workforce of tomorrow.” Also included are insiders’ perspectives about the traits needed to advance in the STEM professions, and how women in particular can make a difference. As Susan O’Day of Disney reflects, “We need to be more aggressive in showing girls and young women role models and highlighting stories of successful leaders.”

The 100 Women Leaders in STEM launch takes place at the U.S. News STEM Solutions Summit in Dallas, TX on June 27, 28 and 29th. A reception hosted by Deloitte and AGU, will take place at 5:00PM on June 28, 2012. To view the full details of the launch and RSVP, visit STEMconnector.org/100women.  A follow up celebration for the 100 Women Leaders in STEM will be held in Washington, D.C. on October 2, 2012 at 5 PM.

About CSTEM™ – Since the organizations founding in 2002, CSTEM™ (communication, science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) Teacher and Student Support Services has positively impacted more than 50,000 students grades Pre K-12th and trained more than 500 teachers.  CSTEM™ is research based and designs STEM curricula collaboratively with industry professionals to connect classroom learning to the real world, increasing the STEM talent pool in related careers. CSTEM™ operates in school districts in Maryland, Tennessee, Mississippi, Texas and the Dominican Republic.  For additional information, visit www.cstem.org.

Funding STEM education

Funding STEM Education Programs

In a letter written by Greg Babe, President and CEO of Bayer Corporation, he reports that their survey of Fortune 1000 and emerging high-tech company CEO’s shows that they “get it”.  In so many words, these organizations realize that diversity, which encompasses ethnic-minorities and females, is essential to the sustainability and competitiveness of STEM industries.  Greg’s conclusion fits right in line with a position I have often stated, that it is imperative for private industry to partner with public programs that demonstrate a sustainable program model, have historical data showing program outcomes over time, and are scalable in a way that program impact can grow commensurate with the financial investment.

Past experience has shown us that effective private-public collaborations can work in a synchronistic fashion towards a common goal.  Corporations willing to invest both capital and sweat equity in the non-profits they support are better able to achieve intended outcomes.  And in the case of developing a STEM workforce, related industries should be investing for the long haul in public K-12 STEM programs.  Fortune 1000 companies are just that because their business model supports growth and meets the market’s demands; they make smart investments in the people and resources that help the organization operate on all cylinders.

Around 2006, we began to witness an emerging market of public programs focused on STEM education programming, and in 2009 President Obama’s State of the Union Address further cemented STEM education as a national priority.  Since then, organizations with no prior experience in STEM education have developed STEM programs to fit this trend, while still working to fulfill their core mission. This led to an explosion of programs creating STEM initiatives for the sole purpose of securing any available funding, without any real commitment or capacity to sustain these initiatives.  Some of this change was as a result of an internal push to ‘move with the cheese’, and for others it was the external push by corporations who shifted their education investment dollars towards STEM programming.

Many including myself, are increasingly concerned about the continual problems we face in education, despite billions of dollars being spent towards solutions seeking a problem to solve at the federal, state, and local level. People are rightfully beginning to ask, “why do we continue to have the same problems in education, particularly issues of reducing the achievement gap among ethnic-minority and females in STEM, despite all the money being spent”?

The answer in my opinion is simple: the longer we continue to fund initiatives with no track record of success, the further the deepening of the education crisis becomes.  It is time we focus on proven solutions, and developing them to a point where they are sustainable and brought to scale.  These solutions are found in programs that are successful at engaging both teachers and students in STEM collaboratively, and it’s our responsibility to make sure that these successful models are heavily championed, rather than being glossed over for the next NEW thing.

NCLB Ten Un-Intended Years

No Child Left Behind (NCLB), the highly publicized education reform effort championed by the George Bush administration, has not been synonymous with school improvement.  The involvement of the federal government in education at the state and local levels has not translated to improved student and teacher performance, rather NCLB put into place rigid guidelines that were not equitably funded across all schools.

While teacher’s work toward meeting unrealistic federally mandated school performance ratings, creativity and innovation have continued to leave the classroom.  Federal test mandates are so onerous in their implementation at the school level that the focus has shifted from education innovation to test prep for an exam that no college or university recognize as part of the admissions requirement.  The inability of the federal government to manage K-12 education is further proven in the tens of thousands of “failing” public schools, labeled as such because they are not measuring up with standardized test scores; this problem is particularly high in predominantly minority serving schools.

Over the last decade, each state as mandated by the federal government has held schools accountable to assessments that were never required to align with or link to the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP); the NAEP exam is the standard most often referred to when comparing how we fare academically as a nation.  Furthermore, though certain interpretation of statistical performance data suggest that our students are performing well; however, the drop-out rate continues to rise, direct admissions into a four year college/university is on the decline, and minority students continue to perform at levels below their White and Asian counterparts.

What we need is an accountability system that is connected to measures that indicate college readiness, such as the SAT/ACT.  Many of the standardized tests put into place as a result of NCLB have only been sufficient for meeting minimal high school graduation standards, but not college or STEM workforce ready standards for many students graduating high school.  This has resulted in schools graduating an increasing number of students lacking basic analytical and problem-solving skills.

What all this has taught us is that for federal education policies to be successful, it must be supported by research led by essential questions aimed at determining how to drive student achievement and teacher performance.  Policies that are implemented then have to be accompanied with the proper framework and financial resources required to deliver effective programming and desired outcomes.  This represents the type of education reform schools, across the country, can rally behind, as it would be aligned with the specific needs of the school community, as opposed to forcing a one-size-fits-all approach to getting all students college and career ready upon graduation from high school.   Without taking these critical measures, the federal government might one day face the realization that it is too far removed from where the work is getting done at the school level, and that implementing such sweeping mandates is a task much too difficult to manage from the top down.

CEA Welcomes CSTEM as New Academic Partner and Affiliate Member

 


For Immediate Release *** October 20, 2011

Contact: Craig Koshkin, (713) 337-8820, ckoshkin@consumerenergyalliance.org

CEA Welcomes CSTEM as New Academic Partner and Affiliate Member

Culminates Year-Long Collaboration in Developing & Launching

First Ever Energy Day Festival

HOUSTONConsumer Energy Alliance (CEA) is pleased to welcome CSTEM as its newest affiliate member.

Since 2002, CSTEM has operated as a non-profit organization providing services to teachers and students in areas of communication, science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (CSTEM).  Through action research, CSTEM has developed a program that support and service Pre K-12 pipeline teams, enriching the teaching and learning process for both teachers and students around the world. Students find success with STEM, develop leadership skills, learn how to work successfully on a team, explore and discover career opportunities in STEM, and experience learning outside of their school and home community.

“CSTEM is so pleased to work with CEA to further educational and workforce opportunities for young people,” said CSTEM founder and CEO, Dr. Reagan Flowers. “The annual international CSTEM Challenge, and CEA’s Energy Day are just two examples of effective collaborative partnerships of two organizations working together to deliver positive messages about technology, science and education to students. CEA’s mission of expanding the dialogue around our nation needs for every form of energy to meet the demands of the future, affords students everywhere so many exciting opportunities to learn and experience energy in all its forms. CSTEM is committed to the continued development of our programs to engage students in STEM and creating opportunities that build better futures. By joining CEA, CSTEM hopes to be able to reach even more students in an attempt to increase the interest rate amongst students in STEM related fields. Together CSTEM and CEA can bolster educational opportunities for America’s youth.”

“Consumer Energy Alliance has been very proud to partner with CSTEM over much of 2011 to help make Houston’s Energy Day a reality and amplify all of CSTEM good work bringing science and energy-related education to students throughout Texas,” said CEA president David Holt. “Educating young people on the role energy plays in their daily lives is a fundamental function for CEA. CEA is proud of our collaboration with CSTEM and looks forward to doing even more together to provide students with credible energy information and activities that show students how STEM fields can become rewarding careers.”

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Consumer Energy Alliance (CEA) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, comprised of more than 160 affiliate members, including energy consumers and producers, and tens of thousands of consumer advocates, that supports the thoughtful utilization of energy resources to help ensure improved domestic and global energy security, stable prices for consumers and balanced energy policy for America.

 

 

Early STEM Program Still Going Strong

Originally article by Jason Koebler posted in www.usnews.com

Early STEM Program Still Going Strong

 

With the onset of the great recession and a skyrocketing unemployment rate, improving science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) achievement has everyone’s attention. But it’s not a new problem, according to Reagan Flowers, the founder of one of the country’s first STEM programs.

For nearly 10 years, her organization, C-STEM (the C stands for communication) has been helping engage at-risk students in math, science, and English—long before many corporations began donating money to organizations like hers.

“Being an early innovator, a front-runner—we haven’t benefited so much in terms of the funding,” Flowers says. “When I started there was no research, I couldn’t find anything to back up my thinking. I almost doubted it in a sense.”

(more…)

Why Disparities Continue with No Child Left Behind

The “No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act” of 2001 was created to implement standardized tests to measure student success and teacher performance (accountability). Ten years later, the education system is still experiencing educational disparities due to the lack of well-prepared and qualified teachers in critical areas such as math, science and literacy. American students will continue to lack skills to compete in a global market regardless of demographic and racial backgrounds without the proper resources mentioned.

Why Disparities Continue with NCLB:

The provisions of NCLB did not promote innovation or high expectations nor did it encourage the development of 21st century skills in public schools.  NCLB has further created a national obsession with standardized tests that do not measure depth, application, nor provide multiple ways for students to demonstrate what they have learned. Education acts, such as NCLB, that lack adequate funding to all states and school districts and shared responsibility of parents, communities, educators, and policymakers,  do not provide all children an opportunity for a great public school education.  The pitfall of NCLB is that it was neither specifically designed to close the achievement gap nor increase student achievement. Rather, it simply set an achievement benchmark and passed it on as a federal mandate for all public schools to achieve.

NCLB Overlooked Significant Factors to Creating Effective Educational Programs:

To ensure that educational programs are effective in increasing student achievement, educational leaders must be held accountable to create programs guided by a concise understanding of the school community and socio-cultural dynamics; particularly, within schools serving greater numbers of low income and minority populations. Program administrators and developers of educational offerings should create procedures that ensure programs are implemented as they are designed, with built-in accommodations to support and supplement broken and absent systems.  Leaders in education should understand that what works in one community will not necessarily work in another and there is no one size fits all solution to creating effective educational programs.  The reality is that successful education programs accommodate systemic needs of the school community, for example:

Scenario 1

To create effective educational programs that focus on the development of teacher content knowledge, teacher training should be accompanied with supporting workshops, adequate in-class tools and resources, instructional observations, and product evaluation (i.e. student-created product(s), presentation(s), and exams.)  The aforementioned holistic approach allows educators to truly gauge area(s) where children are gifted to help students visualize academic success, and holds teachers accountable for results-oriented implementation at an acceptable level.  The end result being, the educational program is more likely to be effective in closing the achievement gap and increasing student achievement.

 

Scenario 2

Creating effective educational programs becomes more challenging in schools serving high percentages of low-income students as they usually do not have the financial support of a PTO/PTA or community businesses.  Ensuring program implementation is effective requires integrating fund-raising activities and mentors. This extra step accounts for the inadequate social-emotional and economic support at home or the lack of exposure to opportunities beyond their immediate environment.

Necessary Changes:

The nation continues to respond to the education crisis by amending previous federal mandates, such as the reauthorization of NCLB to the America Competes Act, to meet our current education needs.  With every revision, government and federally aligned organizations continue to implement the same systems within the same structures.  Appointed officials and organization leaders, who failed the first time, are given an opportunity to re-invent themselves; yet, they choose to continue to work within the same structure.  As a result, we continue to get more of the same; an ever-widening achievement gap, disparities in education, and the potential of a lost generation of children unable to compete academically on a global stage. The government structures and federally funded organizations created to carry out education agendas, in large part, are not designed to engage at the school level or with grassroots organizations that have a pulse on what yields proven results in addressing the needs of their school and community. For a moment, just consider the numerous effective programs we have watched go unfunded and under supported while new programs are adopted, yet prove ineffective once they have run their course.  It causes you to wonder, are we really committed to delivering a quality education to all children or are we simply searching for the next new thing?

How to Create Educational Effectiveness:

Educational effectiveness begins with good leadership at the school level with administrators and teachers. For teachers to be effective and innovative in their profession, they need the support of principals to create a school culture that provides an instructional balance between implementing federal education mandates and state-approved curriculum. Achieving success in the classroom requires adequate teacher training using proven professional development models coupled with the right resources; this translates into practical learning exercises that foster depth, rigor, and relevance, contributing to the overall success of students.  Other areas that support creating educational effectiveness include opening lines of communication at all levels, testing, teacher mentoring models, budgeting priorities, alignment of student achievement initiatives, policy makers, and with teacher accountability systems.  Lastly, for this to have its desired effects, we must shift the focus to the students and how we best educate them, based on how they learn.  We must customize the educational experience to the needs of the children, and that approach must include hands-on and project-based learning.