A state task force trying to boost teaching of science, technology, engineering and math — the so-called STEM disciplines — has identified more than 800 programs around the state that could be expanded or copied elsewhere. Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds is leading the initiative and she says these 800-plus programs are not only in schools, but led by community organizations and businesses as well.

“That’s where we start to inspire them to take science and math, and so they can start to see the relevance of taking those courses and the impact that that that has on their life, on their quality of life, and really on the great jobs that they can have in the future,” Reynolds says. “So this is going to help us inspire them, get them engage and it’s also going to help us make sure that when they graduate from high school that they are career- or college-ready.”

Iowa students will be tested, to see if the programs work.

“The Iowa Assessment, which used to be the Iowa Test of Basic Skills I believe, has allowed us this year to add questions…of all students taking the test so we can start to get a baseline of where they’re at,” Reynolds says. “It monitors interest in science and math, if they have any intention of going into that discipline, so that will be a baseline and that was not on the test before.”

The task force will measure student competence and interest in science, technology, engineering and math by monitoring the National Assessment of Education Skills, too.

AUDIO of Reynolds and Jeff Weld, executive director of STEM Advisory Council, speaking about the programs.