Tuesday, February 23 SciMathMN hosted a dynamic event celebrating career and technical education marking CTE Month. Representatives from the Minnesota State University System, Project Lead the Way, and CTE leaders from across the state spoke to what’s working with students today and what’s possible. See a recording of the discussion here.
On February 22nd, 2022 10-11:00 am SciMathMN, in collaboration with Minnesota State Career and Technical Education, will bring together CTE leaders from across the state to share their stories and ideas to connect experiences to students.
Join us to celebrate the great STEM successes in programs and raise awareness about the connections between STEM and programs in the career clusters. We will be discussing how schools are breaking down barriers and creating innovation by fostering partnerships, building pathways, and connecting students to opportunities in STEM through Career and Technical Education. Register at this link.
The Minnesota Department of Education has released the first draft of new academic standards in mathematics, an important step in the standards review process. The first draft consists of the twenty proposed anchor standards, those standards that act as a summary of all student learning expected in a discipline from kindergarten through high school graduation. It does not include frameworks, the more detailed applications of those standards at different grade levels.
The goals of this initial version is to integrate math practice for students while broadening the purpose of mathematics. This version updates the standards to include both data science and computational thinking, mirroring changes in society and the economy since the last standards update in 2007. Reflecting the growing diversity of Minnesota’s students the draft aims to include multiple cultural perspectives and traditions in mathematics, while including relevant historical and contemporary mathematical problem solving practices of the Dakota and Anishinaabe communities.
The Department is asking for public feedback each of the twenty anchor standards.
First Review of What Students Should Learn in Math Since 2007
Minnesota initiated its first review of state standards in mathematics education since 2007 November 18 with the first meeting of the mathematics standards review committee. The committee is a 36 member group made up of public school teachers from both traditional and charters schools along with representatives from both the University of Minnesota and Minnesota State system and come from a variety of schools across the state. Four members appointed by the Tribal Nations Education Committee will join the group at their December meeting. The day’s activities were led by Sara Van Der Werf, the new Minnesota Department of Education’s new mathematics specialist.
The group started their day with a presentation by Dr. Eric Milou, a professor of mathematics curriculum and instruction at Rowan University and one of the authors of the National Council of Teachers of Math Catalyzing Change series emphasizing deepening students’ mathematics understanding, identity, and doing so in an equitable way.
Group conversation points included wondering if all students need Algebra II as currently required by state statute, should schools continue to track students in mathematics, how to develop more exploratory learning with students, how the standards will incorporate computer science and how to support teachers in implementing those computer science standards.
Doug Paulson, Assistant Director Academic Standards, Instruction, and Assessment reminded committee members that Minnesota is a local control state and that they are explicitly prohibited from determining the delivery system, classroom assessments, or forms of instruction that schools must use. The purpose of this process is the creation of rigorous academic standards for Minnesota’s public school students.
Jennifer Dugan, Director of Academic Standards, Instruction and Assessment reviewed with the committee their meeting schedule and the target of a final draft presented to the Commissioner in August 2022. The committees first draft is scheduled for release in February 2022 and will include only the proposed standards. A public engagement process will follow that release including town halls and online comment opportunities. The second draft, incorporating the public input, will include proposed frameworks including technology and information literacy standards. The frameworks by law focus on college and career readiness.
The committee finished the day breaking into a set of small groups examining other standards including the PISA, NAEP, and standards from the states of Oregon, Kentucky, Oklahoma, Texas, Wisconsin, and the frameworks from California. That activity will continue when the committee reconvenes December 7.
A roster of committee members, links to guiding assumption documents, meeting timeline and more can be found at the Minnesota Department of Education Mathematics page.
After a year’s hiatus due the State Fairs Covid-19 related cancellation STEM Day at the Minnesota State Fair successfully returned this year.
First day Fair attendance was hampered by many Minnesotans having concerns about the Fair acting as a risky event for pandemic transmission in large crowds given the lack of vaccine or masking requirements by the Fair governing body. Opening day was additionally hampered by a rightly ominous weather forecast. Attendance on opening day was 46% of the 2019 opening day. 2021 attendance for the run of the full 12 days was 61% of the 2019 record year. STEM Day attendance mirrored the Fair, with our tracking of exhibit area visitors of 7700 before a rain storm forcing an abrupt close to the event around 2:30 p.m.
A survey of STEM Day exhibitors shows that participants were very pleased with the event. 78% of respondents indicated that their organizations goals for the day were well met or very well met. 87% of respondents indicated that their organization would apply to participate again next year. Exhibitors were strongly positive about event management with 93% giving it their strongest rank in the survey. Over 25% of exhibitors were first time participants keeping the event fresh for families who consistently attend the event.
A survey of visitors to STEM Day shows an almost even mix of those who plan ahead specifically to attend STEM Day as part of their Fair experience and those who discover the event once they are at the Fair. The later are important in moving beyond those who search out STEM education opportunities for their children and instead expose and engage families who may not already identify as having an interest in STEM education. Those families may come away from the event with a new appreciation of their children’s interests.
A significant percentage of those who visited STEM Day did so based on State Fair promotion of events on site and in state newspapers. We consider the Fair to be a strong partner and appreciate the relationship we have built over the past 12 years. Governor Walz again proclaimed the day STEM Day at the Fair in Minnesota.
We’re grateful for all our partners in creating another successful celebration of all things STEM and highlighting to Minnesotans the opportunities for their children to explore their interests and curiosity.
With the Governor’s signature on this year’s K12 education budget June 29, coupled with the Minnesota Department of Education announcement of how it will use $125.4 million in federal American Rescue Plan funds highlight several strategies enhancing STEM education opportunities.
The 2021 session K12 budget bill, setting the education budget for the state for the 2022-2023 fiscal years, included the largest investment in the general education formula in 15 years. Within that bill is a Walz Administration provision intended to increase the breadth of Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate STEM courses available to students and also participation by more diverse student populations. The provision establishes a priority for those programs offering AP’s Computer Science Principles courses. The changes require districts and charter schools to establish three year plans only once they receive grants, shifts from a per pupil amount to a flat $75,000 grant amount to support smaller schools being able to utilize the grants, and encourages the Commissioner to consider statewide geographic balance in the awarding of the grants.
June 30th the Minnesota Department of Education released its plan for allocating $125.4 million in federal American Rescue Funds under its control. This represents 9.5% of the ARP funds dedicated to education. 90% of the total education funds were directly distributed to schools and districts based on their Title 1 population.
Of the $128 million $66 million will be distributed to schools for evidence based strategies targeted at responding to learning loss. These funds will be distributed based on school’s population of historically underserved students, defined as students of color, American Indian students, low income students, students experiencing homelessness, and students receiving special education or English Language Learning services.
Importantly for STEM education advocates $4 million of ARP funds will be available as grants to schools to support expanding access to rigorous coursework defined as AP, IB, Career Technical Education, and Post-secondary Enrollment Options offerings. Schools receiving these grants will be required to report the demographics of students participating in rigorous coursework in their building.
MDE will provide $26.4 million for after school and summer enrichment programs. Half of that money will be distributed by Ignite Afterschool, the states after-school network. Of those dollars, and the monies MDE is retaining for the same purposes 50% of funds must go to community organizations and 50% of funds must go to culturally specific community organizations. After school and summer programs often include STEM opportunities and ignite has long prioritized supporting program quality in the STEM area.
The remaining ARP funds go to a variety of programs supporting students social-emotional learning, training for school staff on non-exclusionary discipline, anti-bias, and trauma informed practices, early learning, and department administration.
Now more than ever we find schools, industries, communities, and regions are doing important work to support their STEM pipelines. This collective work around equity, education, workforce participation, and economic development is important to ensure success for our futures. SciMathMN believes that to make the most impact, we have to work together.
With this in mind, SciMathMN has recently engaged in a strategic process to update its mission and vision. And, as we move forward on enacting this mission and vision, it is of critical importance to engage with STEM education stakeholders throughout the state and from a variety of sectors.
Thus, we invite you to join us for an important conversation about how SciMathMN can bring value and impact to this work by acting as an advocate, convener, resource, and partner for the efforts of STEM education stakeholders throughout Minnesota.
Register using the links below to help define the next chapter of our collective work and be a voice for your community and the state.
Tuesday, May 18th 1:00 pm | Register Here
Wednesday, May 19th 1:00 pm | Register Here
Tuesday, May 25th 10:00 am | Register Here
Thursday, May 27th 4:00 pm | Register Here