Iowa students who participate in STEM Scale-Up programs in their schools are more likely to express an interest in staying in the state to pursue their careers. And Iowa’s public and private universities are increasing the number of STEM-related certificate and degree programs available to high school graduates.

These were among findings from the 2017-2018 Iowa STEM Evaluation Report released Tuesday. The independent evaluation measures progress toward increasing student interest and achievement in science, technology, engineering and math education in Iowa through the efforts of the Governor’s STEM Advisory Council.  

The annual report is conducted by an inter-university consortium of Iowa State University’s Research Institute for Studies in Education, the University of Iowa’s Iowa Testing Programs and the University of Northern Iowa’s Center for Social and Behavioral Research.

More than 1,900 teachers and over 86,000 students participated in at least one of the nine STEM Scale-Up programs offered in the 2017-18 school year, which ranged from building robots and coding programs to conducting agricultural field experiences.

Among students who participated, 45 percent said they were “very interested in someday working in Iowa” compared with 36 percent of students statewide who expressed that interest. Students enrolled in STEM Scale-Up programs also scored an average of 2 points higher in National Percentile Rank on the Iowa Assessments in mathematics and reading and 3 points higher in science.

Degrees in STEM subjects are also becoming more prevalent in Iowa. From 2012-2013 to 2016-2017, STEM post-secondary credentials (including certificates, associate’s degrees, bachelor’s degrees and other awards) have increased 26 percent at Iowa’s four-year public universities, 20 percent at Iowa’s four-year private colleges and universities, and 2 percent at Iowa’s two-year community colleges.

According to the report, overall awareness of STEM continues to increase. More than half of all Iowans, 59 percent, had heard of the STEM acronym in 2017, a 10-point increase from 2016 and more than double that in 2012.

“The results of this report will have a significant impact on STEM education and workforce development for years to come as it will help guide future STEM Council programming and projects in Iowa,” said Accumold President and CEO Roger Hargens, who co-chairs the Governor’s STEM Advisory Council.

To view the full report, click here.