Research on college readiness in STEM fields; Congratulations to Vancouver iTech Preparatory

Education Week reports on ACT’s third Condition of STEM report. The news isn’t great. 

Only 20 percent of high school students who took the ACT are academically ready for the rigor of the first-year college courses they’ll likely have to take if they’re planning to major in science, technology, engineering or math…

The ACT’s third “Condition of STEM” report examines the performance of students who took the college admissions exam in 2015. This year’s report is the first to analyze the students’ performance against a new “STEM benchmark” that was added to the test in the fall of 2015.

It’s important to note that only between 21 percent and 30 percent of Washington graduates take the ACT, well below the average of 59 percent. 

With that caution, here’s the link to the report’s Washington state pages. Washington’s performance – again based on ACT-tested high school graduates – is slightly above the national average. This may have something to do with the relatively smaller share of students taking the test. 


The above charts are only a sample of what’s in the report, which is worth mining for those with a deeper interest in STEM education. From the Education Week report:

The STEM benchmark is a new addition, and is a blend of a student’s scores in science and math. But it’s based on a more rigorous expectation than the single-subject science or math college-readiness benchmarks in past reports. That’s because of recent ACT research that suggested that higher-caliber performance in high school is necessary for good results in college courses such as physics, calculus, chemistry, or biology, typical choices for entering students who aspire to major in STEM disciplines.

And, noting the relatively low performance,

The finding prompted ACT officials to echo their previous years’ warnings that K-12 educators must take steps to bolster students’ skills in STEM areas, since they are a key source of fast-growing, good-paying career fields and an important element of American competitiveness.

We’ve previously noted the importance of STEM education. And it’s important that we also now extend our congratulations to Vancouver iTech Preparatory and the Vancouver Public Schools. The Columbian reports

Vancouver Public Schools was named one of District Administration magazine’s monthly Districts of Distinction for November 2015. The district was honored for Vancouver iTech Preparatory’s focus on a science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) curriculum. The magazine honors districts for initiatives that benefit students and lead the way for other districts to follow.

Here’s the link to the magazine’s write-up of iTech Preparatory

Well done!