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State Tries a ‘STEM’ Video to Confront Lagging Math Scores

Chase Niesner | November 25, 2013

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While some education researchers may question the validity of the nation’s “STEM crisis,” it remains clear that California students continue to struggle in mathematics when compared with their peers across the nation.

According to the recently released Report Card from the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP), California fourth and eighth graders ranked 47th and 45th, respectively, in mathematics proficiency.

“California students did make some modest improvements, but overall, scores are essentially flat when compared nationally over the past two years,” Suzanne Goldstein, Director of Policy and Development for the California STEM Learning Network, said in an email to LA School Report.

Taking notice of the test results, the California Department of Education is pushing the effort to link STEM programs with jobs in a new video. The STEM subjects are science, technology, engineering and math.

“I Am A Scientist” follows a group of students from Manual Arts Senior High – an LA’s Promise school – as they participate in a “Biohackathon” at the LA offices of the California Endowment.

In the video, students test themselves for the hereditary “bitter taste” gene and project their genotypes onto a wall for interpretation. Recent graduates shared with the young students the wide-ranging career options and applications of scientific inquiry.

“Maybe some people know what they want to do already, but some people don’t and are still trying to find themselves,” one student from Manual Arts Senior High says in the video.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson agrees.

“Thousands of jobs students have no idea they exist,” Torlakson says in the video, pointing to fields of medical sciences, computer sciences, engineering, architecture, construction.

The video was developed by the California State Board of Education, the California Endowment, California Biotechnology Foundation and the design firm Lybba.

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