STEAMpunked, Part 1

STEAM is actually a fun new edu-acronym! It stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics. Some of us used to call that “school.” Times change.

On Tuesday we had our first meeting about changing our fundamental curriculum to a STEAM setting. Some schools have already done this sort of thing…mostly high schools, to be honest. They have shown promising results, but none that directly relate to the standardized tests that seem to rule teacher lives these days.

What are the provable result benefits of a STEAM school design? Good question.

Try this:

STEM school student performance successes include the following:
• Seven of nine STEM high schools in 2011 had graduation rates exceeding 90 percent.
• STEM schools had significantly fewer dropouts in 2009-10, the most recent year for which data is available. The state’s STEM schools had a dropout rate of 1.6 percent, less than half the 3.75 percent rate for all high schools in North Carolina.
• STEM-school students together achieved a gain of nearly 20 percentage points in 2010 on their passing rate for all state End-of-Course exams. The state’s overall gain was 8.8 points.
• Students achieved similar strong results in Algebra II (27.2 point gain in passing rate for STEM students vs. 12.4 percent for the state), biology (21.9 point gain vs. 9.7 points for the state) and English I (15.5 point gain vs. 8.3 point gain for the state).
• Students in STEM schools are taking more rigorous math courses, as measured by the percentage of all students enrolled in Algebra II. In STEM schools, 31 percent took the math course in 2009-10 compared to 18 percent of all high school students statewide.

You will notice that the above says “STEM”, not STEAM. That’s not my bad typing, that’s the same model, minus the Arts. Who needs the Arts anyway, right? It’s not like they enrich our creativity or better the soul, or anything like that.

However, despite that criticism, the above results are impressive. In order to achieve them, you need to address curriculum, lesson, and even school scheduling with a near religious fervor. Hence the artwork, with a Victorian Steampunk Yoda, expressing the need to think only of STEAM.

As you can see, I was actually shown results. It’s rare that someone actually answers a strip at the same time I am drawing it.

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