STEM Council Impacts Last Year: Progress, Challenges

Results of an annual random survey of adult Iowans conducted by the UNI Center for Social
Results of an annual random survey of adult Iowans conducted by the UNI Center for Social

The annual evaluation report of Iowa’s STEM Council for last year, 2020-2021, is now available. The following are some of the key findings within. These data and metrics come principally through an inter-university consortium of Iowa State University’s Research Institute for Studies in Education (RISE), the University of Iowa’s Iowa Testing Program (ITP) along with the Center for Evaluation and Assessment (CEA), and the University of Northern Iowa’s Center for Social and Behavioral Research (CSBR) as the project lead.

Well over 100,000 young Iowans and approximately 2,500 educators took part in STEM programs last year, including STEM Scale-Up, STEM BEST, Microsoft Imagine Academy, the Computer Science is Elementary project, regional STEM festivals and more.

Some of the effects of all of that activity include:

  • 65 percent of collegians who had taken part in the STEM BEST Program are now in STEM majors.
  • 93 percent of educators who scaled-up STEM programs feel more confident to teach STEM now.
  • Rural Iowa communities were awarded 70 percent of STEM Scale-Up programs.
  • Learners were eight percent more interested in working in Iowa someday if they took part in a STEM Scale-Up program.
  • Statewide mathematics scores were three (3) points higher on average for youth who took part in the STEM Scale-Up Program.
  • STEM teachers who externed in industry during the summer feel more confident to advise students on job opportunities and workplace expectations.
  • 95 percent of Iowans feel STEM should be a priority in school though 58 percent believe it is.
  • $1,109,706 in grants, corporate gifts and cost-sharing complemented the state investment in Iowa STEM last year.
  • 1,325 new business, workforce, economic development and education leader connections were established by Iowa’s Regional STEM Managers.

Challenges that remain evident by assessors include participation rates by race/ethnicity: while the proportion of Hispanic students jumped to 15 percent (from seven percent), the proportion of Black/African American participants remained at three percent. And, while two percent more minority students achieved proficiency or advanced levels in science compared to their peers not in STEM, the trend was not seen in mathematics.

All to say that the STEM network team of the Governor’s STEM Advisory Council has plenty of feedback for charting the course forward, ever aspiring to improve delivery, reach and impact of services on behalf of the STEM Council. The 2020-21 annual report is available at

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