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Survey: Districts lack STEM funding, professional development


Funding is among the top obstacles cited in a STEM education survey.

Though STEM educators highly value technology’s presence and potential in the classroom, they cited a lack of funding and professional development for teachers as two major roadblocks in creating 21st century classrooms in their districts, according to a new survey from research and consulting firm Interactive Educational Systems Design.

The 2011 National Survey on STEM Education was conducted in December 2010, and 515 educators responded to the survey, which was a follow-up to a similar March 2010 survey.

A majority of survey respondents, when asked to identify the three most important challenges facing K-12 science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education in the U.S., chose STEM funding (74 percent), a low number of qualified STEM education teachers (55.9 percent), and insufficient STEM professional development for teachers (54.6 percent).

For more STEM education news, see:

Solving the STEM Education Crisis

Although funding topped educators’ trouble spots, when comparing projected STEM spending during the 2011-12 school year to actual spending in the 2010-11 school year, 45.8 percent of survey respondents said spending will stay the same, 37.9 percent said spending will decrease somewhat or significantly, and 16.3 percent said spending will increase somewhat or significantly.

These answers are slightly better than those in the 2010 National Survey findings, in which 52.8 percent of respondents projected that spending would decrease somewhat or significantly from 2009-10 to 2010-11, while 35.2 percent indicated that spending would stay the same and 12.1 percent projected that it would increase somewhat or significantly.

Nearly 32 percent of respondents identified grants from private foundations as funding sources for new STEM education initiatives, and 25.9 percent of respondents said funds came from district-led initiatives.

Twenty-three percent said no new STEM initiatives are planned for the 2011-12 school year.

The most frequently indicated funding priorities included STEM professional development for teachers (71 percent), probeware (31.7 percent), simulation software (30.8 percent), programs that expose students to STEM careers (29.5 percent), science room equipment (28.1 percent), and laptops or notebook computers (26.1 percent).

For more STEM education news, see:

Solving the STEM Education Crisis

Sixty-two percent of respondents said their schools or districts have one or more programs that integrate core STEM concepts. Of the respondents from schools or districts without STEM programs, many replied that their schools or districts are somewhat likely (16.9 percent) or very likely (6 percent) to integrate core STEM concepts in the next one to three years.

STEM-related courses that schools and districts offer include:

  • Career and technical education programs (66.7 percent)
  • Introduction to technology courses (63.6 percent)
  • Computer science or computer programming courses (61.1 percent)

Respondents indicated that their schools and districts currently offer or are likely to offer in the next one to three years:

  • Robotics courses (65.6 percent)
  • Engineering fundamentals courses (57.6 percent)
  • Energy and the environment courses (57.4 percent)

Courses most likely to be offered in the next one to three years include…

  • Energy and the environment (24.9 percent)
  • Middle school STEM courses (17.4 percent)
  • Elementary school STEM courses (46.2 percent)

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