On December 6, 2016, the fourth annual convening of the Empire State STEM Learning Network was held at the SUNY Global Center in New York City. More than 50 education and business leaders from across the network’s 10 regional hubs came together to celebrate achievements, share best practices for providing students and teachers with high-quality STEM learning opportunities, and to discuss priorities and next steps for the network for the coming year.
We were honored to be joined by New York State Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul; SUNY Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher; Stanley S. Litow, vice president of corporate citizenship and corporate affairs and president of the IBM International Foundation; and SUNY Senior Vice Chancellor Johanna Duncan-Poitier.
Having such prominent state and national leaders join us at the convening provided the opportunity to discuss strategies for how the rich education and industry partnerships that are a hallmark of the Empire State STEM Learning Network can advance the future of STEM education and economic growth in New York State.
Lieutenant Governor Hochul chairs New York’s 10 Regional Economic Development Councils that have transformed the state’s economy by building upon regional strengths through long-term strategic plans.
The councils include leaders from academia, business, labor and not-for- profits. The lieutenant governor also chairs the State Workforce Investment Board, which addresses a serious concern of businesses: the lack of skilled workers. At the convening, she discussed ways we could build upon the rich education/business partnerships in the Empire State STEM Learning Network to help more students graduate from high school and college prepared for 21st-century careers in information technology, manufacturing, health care and other high-need STEM fields.
SUNY Chancellor Zimpher shared with network members the work she is leading with New York State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia to advance TeachNY — a campaign to promote the teaching profession while improving the state’s delivery of teacher preparation programs by expanding clinical practice, generating investment for professional development that spans the career of a teacher and creating regional councils to ensure future teachers will meet projected demand (https://www.suny.edu/teachny).
Johanna Duncan-Poitier, SUNY senior vice chancellor for community colleges and the education pipeline, shared examples of ways SUNY is working to strengthen the STEM education pipeline by bringing evidence-based strategies to scale. For example, through a partnership with the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, SUNY is leading a major initiative to scale-up the Carnegie Foundation’s highly successful Math Pathways Quantway/Statway across SUNY. Quantway and Statway are mathematics competency programs for students that have a national student success rate double the average of traditional remedial classes. Also, in 2016, SUNY was designated as one of 13 Jobs for the Future Student Success Center Networks to benchmark and scale-up “best-in-class” strategies to help community college students complete degrees and certificates.
IBM’s Stanley S. Litow is a founder of Pathways in Technology Early College High School, a grade 9-14 school model where students earn a high school diploma and an industry-recognized associate degree while gaining relevant work experience in a growing field. The schools create a seamless program for students to acquire the academic, technical and workplace skills and knowledge employers need.
There are currently 37 schools in the New York State P-TECH Network. P-TECH partnerships are being established across the United States and the world (http://www.ptech.org).
Also at the convening, Network leaders from across the State discussed the key strengths and leverage points of the network to support the goals shared by key leaders and potential partners for advancing STEM teaching and learning and strengthening workforce development, including:
- Strong regional education/industry partnerships.
- Hubs that provide high quality, industry-aligned, applied STEM learning experiences to students in their regions.
- Hubs that provide high quality STEM professional development to teachers.
- Hubs that leverage the strengths of regional P-TECH partnerships, Career Academies, Smart Scholars Early College High Schools and New York State Master Teachers.
- Recognition of the East Syracuse-Minoa Central School District (central New York State) and the Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Partnership (western New York State) as national STEM Learning Ecosystems by the White House for their work to provide an architecture for cross-sector STEM learning environments for students in pre-K to college.
- Support by Empire STEM of the new NYS STEM Learning Standards and expansion of career and technical education, applied learning and project-based learning.
- Support by Empire STEM of increased diversity in STEM disciplines and careers.
- Development of the STEM Quality Standards Rubric by Empire STEM, led by the Western New York Hub, to help educators strengthen STEM teaching and learning in their schools and programs.
- Membership of Empire STEM in the national STEMx Network, which is led by Battelle.
The Empire State STEM Learning Network is looking forward to working with our state and national leaders and other collaborators in 2017 to help engage more students in STEM and encourage and support students in pathways to STEM careers.