The I-STEM Resource Network leads a group called the Indiana STEM Action Coalition (STEM-AC), focusing on specific policy imperatives developed by the national STEM organization Change the Equation. The STEM-AC group now numbers over 115 people and includes representatives from schools, colleges and universities across the state as well as Project Lead the Way, the Indiana Chamber of Commerce, the Indiana Department of Education, many businesses, and many non-profits.
Recently the STEM-AC committee completed the policy guidance for I-STEM. The goal is to provide knowledgeable, fact-based policy advice to Indiana’s education decision makers so that education and workforce development policies promote STEM education aligned with research-based educational practices and STEM careers. In October 2012 over 100 representatives from business, government, and higher education attended the STEM Coalition meeting in Indianapolis to learn about the Vital Signs for Indiana, published by Change the Equation (http://changetheequation.org/), which describes the current state of affairs for STEM education in each state. The attendees broke into working groups and used Change the Equation’s Principles for STEM Policy to identify nine principles to advance STEM education. Subsequently the policy principles were consolidated into five key areas:
- Set high expectations for student learning in STEM disciplines.
- Ensure effective STEM teachers in every classroom and out-of-school setting.
- Develop, advance, and evaluate effective STEM strategies and programs.
- Align learning and curricular resources to standards.
- Provide students with relevant, up-to-date information and mentoring on STEM careers.
Working groups in these areas were formed at a second STEM-AC meeting in February 2013. These groups have researched approaches that work in other states and completed policy recommendations for moving forward in Indiana. The groups met in June 2013 to finalize these policies and look for overlap, synergies and roadblocks. The output from this workshop has been used to create specific policy initiatives for STEM-AC to take forward to the IDOE, the Governor’s advisors on education and workforce, and various legislative committees. Now we are working closely on specific budget and policy proposals to support STEM education in Indiana. Our meeting in April 2014 established a coalition organization to unite various interest segments to address these policies.