WE ARE STEM & CTE in the Middle Grades

I am pleased to announce the kick-off of WE ARE STEM & CTE in the Middle Grades – the Workforce and Education Alliance to Realize Equity in STEM and CTE in the Middle Grades.

This NSF INCLUDES planning grant (2040783) focuses on broadening the participation of students from underserved groups in STEM and CTE programs in the middle grades.

Underserved groups include girls; individuals who are Black, Indigenous or Native, and People of Color; and those from the broadened definition of special populations in Perkins V, with a particular focus on students with disabilities and students from economically disadvantaged families.

With the implementation of the stronger equity provisions in Perkins V and the continuing emphasis on equity and inclusion in STEM education, the time is right to be able to impact STEM and CTE systems at the state and local levels. This work is even more urgent because of the equity gaps in high quality CTE and STEM programs exacerbated by COVID-19.

This collective impact alliance will build on:

  • Perkins V provisions emphasizing the need for CTE experiences and career guidance and counseling in Grades 5-8 – a crucial time for students to make decisions to take STEM courses.
  • the success of NAPE’s NSF INCLUDES Design, Development, and Launch Pilot Intermountain STEM (IMSTEM) (1744472) , a collective impact alliance of local and state change agents with influence over policies, practices and resource flows.
  • outcomes from NAPE’s work with educators addressing the math and STEM pipeline in middle school.
“Our NAPE programs took us from 26% of students in advanced 6th-grade math class to 75%. We’ve eliminated the gatekeepers to advanced classes—teacher recommendations, minimum test scores, minimum class averages —and instead replaced them with procedures that make this accessible for all.”

~ Natalie Nichols Area Superintendent, Stony Point Learning Community, Round Rock ISD

NAPE’s co-PIs for WE ARE STEM & CTE in the Middle Grades are from the California Department of Education, the South Carolina Department of Education, the Utah STEM Action Center, and Butler Tech in Ohio. Other Partners represent state and local interest and commitment in creating a national collective impact network to tackle this problem.

The planning process will focus on three design elements of the collaborative infrastructure: creating a shared vision; building partnerships; and identifying goals and metrics to measure progress and outcomes. The process will also include an external evaluator who will conduct a formative evaluation and whose expertise will be utilized in the goals and metric setting. The planning process will include leadership development, partnership expansion, crowdsourcing, and virtual convenings resulting in a strategic plan for a national collective impact network to address equity gaps in STEM and CTE.

This 16-month planning grant (Nov 2020-Feb 2022) represents a national public and private partnership of large well-resourced organizations brought together to collaborate on addressing the broadening participation challenges in STEM and CTE, thereby advancing the knowledge of how planning creative social innovations, such as collective impact, can lead to transformative systems change. The goal of increasing diversity, equity, and inclusion in STEM undergirds all of the objectives of the 2019-2023 Federal STEM education strategic plan, “Charting A Course for Success: America’s Strategy for STEM Education” (NSTC, 2019). This planning grant is purposefully aligned with and advances the goals and objectives of the Federal STEM strategic plan.

The alliance will foster an ecosystem with the capacity to inform and empower educational stakeholders to create systems changes to ensure the participation of students from underserved groups in STEM and CTE.

For more information email project Principal Investigator (PI), Ben Williams, PhD, NAPE CEO at


By Ben Williams, PhD, CEO; Principal Investigator (PI)
December 15, 2020

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