Friday, August 30, 2013

Knowledge Economy and the STEM Achievement GAP

I am the featured blogger over at Ideas Laboratory today - David Saba: Preparing Students for the ‘Knowledge Economy’ - a taste -

In their paper entitled “The Knowledge Economy,” Stanford professors Walter W. Powell and Kaisa Snellman define it “as production and services based on knowledge-intensive activities that contribute to an accelerated pace of technical and scientific advance, as well as rapid obsolescence. The key component of a knowledge economy is a greater reliance on intellectual capabilities than on physical inputs or natural resources.”

The knowledge economy requires a higher level of skills, but it has become clear that our education system is not equipping students with the skills they need to succeed in the modern workforce. Another common term encountered is the “achievement gap.” There is great concern with the fact that African-American and Hispanic students are falling behind their white counterparts. But when you take a close look at the achievement gap in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), it is horrific.

The knowledge economy is increasingly dependent on college-educated professionals. By 2018, the economy will create 46.8 million new jobs. Nearly two-thirds of these will require workers with at least some college education, with a slight majority requiring workers with a Bachelor’s degree or better.
But current college completion can’t meet this need. The U.S. Census Bureau reported in 2010 only 39% of non-Hispanic whites ages 25-29 had Bachelor’s degrees; the numbers were even less for African-Americans (19%) and Hispanics (14%).

U.S. students are not college ready. The ACT just released their 2013 report on college readiness for students based on this year’s ACT scores. Based on a composite score of math, science, English and reading, they found that only 5% of African American and 14% of Hispanic students are college ready compared to 33% of white students.

The gap in readiness for math and science is even more startling. In math, while 54% of white students are college ready, only 14% of African Americans and 30% of Hispanic students are considered college ready. In science, 45% of white students are college ready while only 10% of African American and 21% of Hispanic students are college ready.-

See more at: IdeasLaboratory

Thursday, August 29, 2013

NMSI Results in the News

Math, science program sees big improvement on AP tests - from the Kansas City Star

"The pass rate on rigorous Advanced Placement tests went up by 72 percent last year at high schools that took part in a National Math and Science Initiative program that trains teachers and gives students extra help on Saturdays."

Program dramatically increases number of Latino students passing AP exams - NBC Latino
"Over the three-year program, the number of Latino and African-American students who achieved passing AP scores in math, science, and English courses tripled. During the 2012-2013 academic year, first year NMSI schools saw an increase of 85 percent of students passing science, math and English exams"

Helping More STEM Students get College-Ready - The White House OSTP Blog!!
"From the beginning of his Administration, President Obama has called for all hands on deck to improve STEM education in America. Under the President’s Educate to Innovate Campaign the Administration has formed public private partnerships to inspire students in STEM fields and to provide the tools for students to achieve success.

The National Math and Science Initiative (NMSI) is one such partner working to answer the President’s call by improving student engagement and success in challenging high-school math and science courses. Today, NMSI announced that for the fifth year running, students enrolled in its Advanced Placement (AP) program earned significantly higher scores on AP exams compared to the national average. By providing teachers with specialized training, mentorship, and classroom resources, increased class time, and incentives for teachers, students, and administrators to work to achieve ambitious goals, NMSI’s AP program has on average increased by 144% the number of students achieving qualifying scores on AP math, science, and English exams in schools adopting the program."

Pretty cool day for NMSI's students and teachers who work so hard -great recognition for their results.

Read more here:

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Dramatic Increase in Student Achievement

Only NMSI gets results like these for increased student achievement:

"NMSI’s comprehensive program has a dramatic improvement on AP scores within the first year of implementation. The average first year increase in the number of passing AP math, science and English scores at NMSI schools is 72 percent – 10 times the national average. Those results are sustained throughout the program’s three-year duration. Over the life cycle of the NMSI program, the number of average passing scores on AP math, science and English exams increased by 144 percent, compared to 23.2 percent nationally. To achieve a passing score, students must earn a three or higher on a five-point scale, making them eligible for college credit at most colleges and universities."

Visit the NMSI blog for more.

College Readiness in Oklahoma - Great Story of Student Success

I absolutely love this story of student success! Especially NMSI student "I wouldn't be anywhere where I am at now. All the rigorous work has helped me be prepared for college," Tashawnya Edwards said.

Watch the video - well worth your time to see it. - Oklahoma City, OK - News, Weather, Video and Sports |

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

OK Student Achieve ROCKS with Public-Private Partnership

It started with Northrup-Grumman wanting to help students from military families by bringing in NMSI to create centers of college readiness in their schools. Then Boeing joined in and helped fund more schools. Now, in a true public-private partnership to improve student achievement, the Dr. Janet Baresi, Oklahoma Superintendent of Schools, has budgeted to fund half the program costs and private funders have come in to fund expansion in three more schools.  Truly phenomenal progress in AP that is now lifting the entire state!  GO OK!!
Tee Edwards, a student at one of our best NMSI schools, says her AP courses have helped her prepare for college by honing her time management skills

Oklahoma Students in National Math and Science Initiative Program
Excel on Advanced Placement Exams

Oklahoma City – Hundreds of high school students in Oklahoma are headed back to school this year with higher scores on their Advanced Placement* (AP) exams thanks to the National Math and Science Initiative (NMSI). NMSI’s Comprehensive AP program works to improve student performance in rigorous math, science and English courses.

Among the six state schools from Lawton Public Schools and Mid-Del School District that currently partner with NMSI, the number of students who earned a passing score of three or more on the math, science and English five-point AP exam scale increased by more than 50 percent within the program’s first year compared to 8.6 percent in Oklahoma and 7.2 percent nationally. The results were even more impressive in AP math and science courses, where passing exam scores improved by 150 percent in the first year compared to 14.6 percent in Oklahoma and 8.2 percent nationally. Students who earn passing scores are eligible for college credit at most colleges and universities.

“Oklahoma’s students and teachers are a testament to what’s possible when we work together to explore untapped potential in the classroom,” said Sara Martinez Tucker, CEO of the National Math and Science Initiative. “By increasing access to rigorous courses and giving teachers the training and resources they need to help their students excel, we’re preparing the next generation for success – both in college and future careers.”

Before the NMSI program was introduced to six Oklahoma schools, African-American, Hispanic and female students accounted for just 15.9 percent of passing scores on AP math, science and English exams. After just one year, minorities and females accounted for 24 percent of the state’s passing scores on AP exams.

“This significant improvement among our minority students is welcome news as we continually work to close achievement gaps,” said state superintendent Janet Barresi. “We must ensure all of our students are prepared for the rigors of college coursework and their future careers. This is of particular importance in STEM subjects, as science, technology, engineering and math skills are in great demand in the work force. The work of NMSI and corporate partners helps us ensure we are reaching more students and improving their chances of future success.”
Policymakers and educators gathered at the state capitol today to celebrate the improved AP test results. Participants included Dr. Janet Barresi, Oklahoma state superintendent of public instruction; Nathan Slate, site manager at Northrop Grumman Corporation; Dale Fleury, senior regional director for NMSI; and Oklahoma students.

At the event, NMSI announced a new public private partnership with the Oklahoma Department of Education to implement the comprehensive AP Program combined with the NMSI STEM teacher training program at Tulsa Memorial, Ulysses S. Grant and Enid high schools. The three schools combined are expected to increase passing scores in AP math, science and English by 253 percent over the three-year life of the grant.

"We are proud to be able to provide grants and partner with NMSI's AP program for military families," said Adrian B. Talley, deputy director of the U.S. Department of Defense Education Activity.  “The expansion of this program for students attending Oklahoma high schools opens a new level of opportunity and possibility for children and their peers to excel in math and science.  This investment in the AP program for math and science is truly transformational and raises the bar academically in our public schools.  We are pushing for this program to be in all our schools because the results are proven, consistent, and speak for themselves."

Eisenhower High School and Carl Albert were the first two schools to adopt the NMSI program in 2011. Earlier this year, Eisenhower High School was recognized as NMSI “School of the Year” for record-setting gains in AP achievement. In those two years, Eisenhower and Carl Albert high schools AP math, science and English passing exam scores increased by 116 percent. This number nearly doubled in math and science disciplines where AP passing scores increased by 229 percent – compared to 17 percent nationally.

“Over the past couple of years, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of my students who want to pursue chemistry or a career in engineering,” said Katherine Hergenrether, AP chemistry and calculus teacher at Eisenhower High School. “My goal is to make future scientists, engineers and technology leaders in the world, and I know that I’m doing that with the help of NMSI.”

The remaining four schools, Lawton, MacArthur, Del City and Midwest City high schools are entering their second year.

NMSI’s comprehensive AP program fosters sustained academic achievement in high schools across the nation by providing open enrollment in AP math, science and English classes for all students, increased time on task for students through special study sessions, intensive teacher training, support from master teachers and incentives for teachers and students. During the 2012-2013 school year, the program expanded to reach 530 schools in 22 states.

About National Math and Science Initiative

NMSI, a non-profit organization, was launched in 2007 by top leaders in business, education, and science to transform education in the United States. NMSI has received national recognition for training K-12 teachers and improving student performance through the rapid expansion of these highly successful programs: NMSI's Comprehensive AP program, NMSI Teacher Training program, and UT Austin’s UTeach program.  Inaugural funding for NMSI, was provided by the Exxon Mobil Corporation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation. For more information, visit

*Advanced Placement and AP are registered trademarks of the College Board.

Media Contact: Mary Ortiz, 214-346-1245,­­­­

Friday, August 23, 2013


Thank you to the O'Donnell Foundation for amazing support to help more students from Dallas Independent School District through NMSI's Comprehensive AP Program!

A full page ad in the Dallas Morning News recognizing the great teachers who make this program happen and the results shown below - for more information go to

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Kids are NOT College and Career Ready

Annual ACT report on college and career readiness is no surprise - kids aren't. 

Based on the composite score on math, science, English, and reading only 20.9% are college ready.  But that is the average - only 5% of African-American and 14% of Hispanic students are college ready - that is horrific. 

As for the subjects themselves - the numbers are higher than the overall composite
  • Math - 14% of African-American and 30% of Hispanic students are college ready
  • Science - 10% of African-American and 21% of Hispanic students are college ready

From the Hechinger article on how it was calculated - 
College-readiness benchmarks were developed by ACT to predict whether a student has a 75 percent chance of earning a C or higher or a 50 percent chance of earning a B or higher in a typical first-year college course. Students this year did best in English, with 64 percent achieving the standard. Forty-four percent met it in both reading and math, and 36 percent hit the benchmark in science. Just 26 percent hit the benchmark in all four subjects in 2013. (The English test measures punctuation, grammar, sentence structure, organization, and rhetorical skills. The reading test measures reading comprehension.)

We are not closing the achievement gap if these are the numbers of college and career ready students.  It is NMSI's focus and we will continue to push until this improves. 

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Net Promoter Score for Teacher Training

I have worked for three different organizations where we implemented the Net Promoter Score as a way to help us understand where we are moving in customer satisfaction. For these three education training organizations, we never had enough money for extensive marketing so we were very much dependent on word of mouth to grow our business.  Net Promoter Score gave us a great look at where we stood and where were going over time.

This year we had our process down. We had a way for teachers attending NMSI teacher training to complete a survey through their smart phones meaning we could ask them to complete it before they left training and get immediate feedback. 

The survey results showed that teachers felt they received outstanding teacher training this year. Over 9,600 teachers went to training in 23 different states - incredible reach based on great word of mouth. 

To get your Promoter Score, you ask your customers the simple question - on a scale of 0-10, how likely is that you would recommend NMSI teacher training to a friend. Those answering 9 and 10 (66.8% for NMSI) are your promoters. Those answering 0-6 (8.9% for NMSI) are your detractors.  You subtract the detractors from your promoters to get your score. 

NMSI's teacher training score this year was 58% - pretty great for a first cut at the score. Not in the top tier but for teacher training it is outstanding. 

Monday, August 19, 2013

Common Core Partnerships!

Great partnership to help train teachers in Louisiana on Common Core with A+PEL and National Math + Science Initiative highlighted in this article - Louisiana teachers gather at Pineville High to study Common Core. We had 60 teachers gathered for NMSI elementary teacher Common Core training which went incredibly well -
  • “Teachers have been teaching one way for years,” said Keith Courville, director of professional development and university programs for Associated Professional Educators of Louisiana. “It’s a lot to demand individual teachers and districts to figure this out on their own.”
  • “In some ways, what’s happening here today is a pilot test for what large-scale elementary school training will look like,” Courville said
Great start this year as NMSI launches our elementary teacher training in response to demand from our work with PARCC.  This has been an incredible response from around the country to this new offering!! 

Thursday, August 15, 2013

College Readiness in Alaska!

NMSI has expanded to Alaska - we trained hundreds of teachers and now we have 2 NMSI High Schools starting the program as a part of our goal to create centers of college readiness in schools that serve military families.

From the article in the Alaska Star
"a part of a public-private partnership, NMSI is funded by a slew of donors such as Exxon Mobil Corporation, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Lockheed Martin and the Boeing Company.

Student incentives aren’t limited to payouts. NMSI pays half of the AP exam fee for each student, Lang said, and foots the entire bill for students who receive free or reduced-price meals.

“That removes the economic barrier,” he said.

Teachers also stand to make financial gains from the program. AP teachers will be paid $100 per student who pass the math, science or English exams with a 3 or higher.

Teachers must provide 40 hours of before-or-after-school tutoring throughout the year for their AP students.

NMSI also provides teachers with AP training. In June, six ERHS teachers attended a seminar put on by College Board in Oklahoma City, Okla.

“It was very, very good training,” said AP English teacher Clinton Holloway.

In spring 2014, Holloway and his colleagues are headed to Dallas to witness how AP exams are graded. The simulation will provide teachers a better understanding of the test by getting a look at the assessment end, Lang said.

NMSI is also putting on three presentations during the year for Eagle River and Bartlett students and teachers, Lang said.

Holloway has mixed feelings on the cash incentives. It’s good encouragement for students, said Holloway, who suspects more kids will opt to take the exam.

“They don’t get paid to play per say,” Holloway said. “You have to pass the exam. I think that will be a powerful motivation.”

Large increases in scores to follow!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Common Core and Conceptual Understanding!

Online Learning Modules Will Play a Big Role in Common Core Implementation Across the U.S.

More than 50,000 math, science and English teachers will benefit from web-based training modules in the 2014-2015 school year

DALLAS – The National Math and Science Initiative’s (NMSI) first ever web-based training modules are being developed to reach more than 50,000 teachers from 26 states. Thanks in part to a $248,760 grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, NMSI will design online training modules for teachers grades 3-11 in the critical subjects of math, science and English Language Arts to expand their understanding of the instructional rigor required by the implementation of Common Core State Standards (CCSS).

“Our goal is to provide NMSI-trained teachers with ongoing virtual training and support so they not only understand the standards, but can deeply embed them in their instructional practice,” said NMSI CEO Sara Martinez Tucker. “We will help build outstanding teacher leaders nationwide.”

Eight online modules, developed by the NMSI instructional design team, will enhance NMSI’s four-day teacher training summer institutes by creating a blended learning model for training to support teacher learning throughout the school year. The online modules will provide teachers with ongoing support to implement the strategies needed to create a generation of college and career ready students.

The grant will help NMSI provide teachers with access to online activities, videos, online collaboration and other content via tablet, computer or smartphone. This supplemental training will allow teachers the opportunity to demonstrate their understanding of effective instructional practice through sharing strategies and best practices with other NMSI math, science and English teachers across the country.

The first video from this partnership on Conceptual Understanding has been released. In addition, 100 teachers who have completed the full NMSI training program will be selected to join NMSI’s 500 member Trainer Cadre and acquire the additional skills necessary to serve as mentors within their states.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Conceptual Understanding

Great video on Conceptual Understanding - a must view for all teachers! It is a critical concept for common core state standards or any standards that hope to achieve college and career readiness for students!

Share with your teaching friends!

AP + STEM Coming to Biloxi!

Great editorial from Arthur McMillan who is the Superintendent of Schools in Biloxi Mississippi.  Through a generous grant from the Office of Naval Research, the National Math and Science Initiative Comprehensive AP program will be coming to the Gulf Coast!

From his editorial entitled "Biloxi is ready to meet the STEM challenge"

"In fact, this year, as part of its involvement in the prestigious National Math and Science Initiative, Biloxi is offering an expanded array of college-level or advanced placement courses. The AP lineup includes calculus AB, statistics, biology, chemistry, physics, environmental science, English language, English literature and others. The courses are open to all students, not just military dependents. Teachers from across the district participated in specialized training this summer with other educators from all across the nation to further prepare in these areas.

But more than that, the Biloxi program also will include Saturday and monthly study sessions throughout the year to help better prepare students for AP exams. Drawings and prizes will be awarded for students participating in the extra study sessions -- as well as $100 paid to each student who scores a 3 or above on the placement exams. All the incentives will be awarded by the National Math and Science Initiative. Depending on the college and program of their choice, with a score of 3 or above, students will also receive credit for that class in college. It's a win-win for all involved.

his exciting program and the opportunities it presents for our students and parents are the result of several factors. First, there's a $388,507 grant from the Office of Naval Research. We appreciate that support. Second, there's Keesler Air Force Base being here in Biloxi, right in the center of the Biloxi Public School District. And third, there's the record of hard work and accomplishment by our students, teachers and administrators.

We expect great things from our students here in Biloxi Public Schools, and we have found that by setting the bar high, our students respond to the challenge and accomplish more. With the National Math and Science Initiative, expect enrollment in math, science, and English AP courses at Biloxi High School to increase by 74 percent, and qualifying scores are expected to increase by a whopping 215 percent.

At the same time, our teachers and administrators are held to higher standards. They take part in our reteach and retest program. This past school year, teachers from every school site devoted time on Saturdays to help students prepare for the all-important state testing as well as the ACT and the AP exams.

It's all part of our "Excellence … From all … For all." It's the standard and the expectation here in Biloxi."

Love that last line and we love working with Biloxi!

Read more here:

STEM Resources

Great list of STEM Resources over at the Getting Smart Blog - which lists NMSI and UTeach. It is a pretty good list of great organizations that are moving the needle on STEM Education in the US.  From their list of resources -

STEM Networks & Resources

Friday, August 9, 2013

STEM Crisis - how to fix it

I was interviewed for Robin Dupre of Rigzone entitled "STEM Crisis Correlates to Shortage of Skilled Energy Labor in the US"

"The best way to ensure more students who start with STEM majors and actually finish, is to get them excited about the profession early and have the confidence to complete the rigorous coursework," said Saba. "The Association of American Universities has been working on this issue and found that the solution lies in better instruction and early research experiences in the major. The oil and gas industry can play a big role in this by working with universities to provide real world experiences, with a focus on research that can ensure more students are retained in their STEM major and would then pursue a career in oil and gas."

The report also found that women leave STEM degrees at higher rates and only a few enter STEM careers.

"Sadly, there is still not enough inspiration in all STEM fields for women," Saba said. "STEM inspiration is starting to expand with programs recruiting more female STEM teachers in order to provide an excellent role model for students. By broadening the reach of STEM AP to more females, NMSI has witnessed a 167 percent increase in females taking and passing STEM AP in just three years through our program."

We can fix STEM in this country and NMSI is leading the way! 

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

MS Common Core - New Strategies to Create Critical Thinkers

Great news coverage of the NMSI training in Mississippi. It was a great, and much needed, training for Mississippi teachers.