Alachua County Education Compact Prioritizes

A recent article on written by Washington Correspondent Jamaal Abdul-Alim reports that gender and racial gaps in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields persist, despite efforts and resources—as reflected in the U.S. News/Raytheon STEM index —committed to closing them. A 2014 American College Testing (ACT) report reflects a lag in college readiness in mathematics and science among women, minorities, low-income students and other underserved groups who aspire to STEM fields at the same rate as the overall population.

“These reports tell us that our community is on the right track in its efforts to coordinate resources and strategies to benefit Alachua County students,” said Chamber Vice President of Workforce Development Ian Fletcher, who is directing the Alachua County Education Compact signed in May by 21 local education, business, government and community leaders. Among top priorities of both the Compact and Alachua County Public Schools Superintendent Owen Roberts’ Five in Five Plan is a strong focus on STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics).

At the U.S. News STEM Solutions Conference, Brian Kelly, editor and chief content offi cer of U.S. News & World Report, which produced the US News/Raytheon STEM Index, said the gaps stem from a variety of factors. They include a lack of awareness among parents on the importance of STEM fi elds—which continue to constitute the fastest areas of job growth—and an inability to bring to scale STEM education programs that work.

“A lot of evidence says you need to teach math and science in a more hands-on practical way so kids understand ‘Why am I solving this problem,’ or ‘I’m doing this experiment because it’s about real life,” said Kelly.

Superintendent Roberts’ Five in Five plan includes a STEAM initiative hinged a hands-on robotics program to encompass all STEAM subjects and promote student engagement, creativity, problem-solving, teamwork and other skills kids need to succeed.

Content provided by the Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce

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