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STEM In N.H. Schools: How To Follow Through On Task Force Report

A report this week found New Hampshire schools must do more to graduate students in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math.

The STEM Task Force report issued Tuesday came up with a wide range of recommendations to prepare students for careers in those fields.

You can read the report here.

Brian Blake is superintendent of the Sanborn Regional School District. He was a member of the STEM Task Force and joins us to talk about his reaction to the report’s findings.

The report found there’s a lack of teachers to fill math and science positions. How do you fix that?

We’re going to need to look at enticing more professionals, people that are in the STEM field, to go into education, perhaps incentive that in some way. I think it needs to start with our teacher prep programs and enticing more college students who are in education training programs to pursue STEM education.

When kids are in high school and even elementary school, when they’re deciding on careers, we need teachers who are energetic and excited about science so that those students want to go on to become science teachers, as well.

The report recommends everything from more personal learning standards starting in middle school. Is the key to get students more engaged at a younger age?

In terms of STEM education, the report was very clear that we need to develop students’ interests in the STEM fields at an earlier age and help them to hone their interest levels in the science fields and help them to realize the dreams that they have.

The report calls for the creation of a STEM Education Innovation Fund, a public-private partnership to help pay to implement these recommendations.

How important is that funding aspect to actually following through on the report’s recommendations?

There were eight recommendations that were made in the task force report. Some of those will clearly require funding that’s not currently available to us. I think that the opportunities are there for much of that work to happen in schools and school districts now.

The adoption of the Next Generation Science Standards for example is something that we can clearly do in our existing systems. The math courses and the recommendations around the fourth year of mathematics is something that we can do.

Things like the specialized STEM advanced high school program are going to be more difficult to do without the community business partnerships.

So what do you hope to do in your own district to respond to this? Are there things you’re already doing you’ve seen work?

Frankly, many of the things that are in the report we’re already doing. We’ve already looked at and begun to adopt the Next Generation Science Standards. We’re already looking at our options for that additional math course. We’re looking at individual pathways for students. We have a program for juniors and seniors where they have career pathways, and that’s not just science, but all the different fields.

For many radio listeners throughout New Hampshire, Rick Ganley is the first voice they hear each weekday morning, bringing them up to speed on news developments overnight and starting their day off with the latest information.
Michael serves as NHPR's Program Director. Michael came to NHPR in 2012, working as the station's newscast producer/reporter. In 2015, he took on the role of Morning Edition producer. Michael worked for eight years at The Telegraph of Nashua, covering education and working as the metro editor.

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