CTEq: Vital Signs

Change the Equation (CTEq) is pleased to unveil its 2012 Vital Signs, which measure the health of the K-12 STEM learning enterprise, state by state. Created in collaboration with the American Institutes for Research, Vital Signs offer the most comprehensive available picture of STEM in your state—the demand for and supply of STEM skills, what states expect of students, students’ access to learning opportunities, and the resources schools and teachers have to do their work.

Vital Signs was made possible by generous support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Change the Equation (CTEq) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, CEO-led initiative that is mobilizing the business community to improve the quality of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) learning in the United States. Since its launch in September 2010, CTEq has helped its more than 100 members connect and align their philanthropic and advocacy efforts so that they add up to much more than the sum of their parts.

CTEq’s coalition of members strives to sustain a national movement to improve PreK-12 STEM learning by leveraging and expanding its work focusing on three goals:
• Improving Philanthropy—Increase the impact of corporate philanthropy by emphasizing high quality, scalable programs.
• Inspiring Youth—Capture the imagination of young people, giving them a solid foundation in STEM and insight into the unlimited postsecondary and career options.
• Advocating Change—Promote proven state policies and research-based practices that enhance student mastery of and interest in STEM disciplines.

Nebraska Overview:

Business leaders in Nebraska have sounded an alarm. They cannot find the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) talent they need to stay competitive in a global economy. Students' lagging performance in K–12 is a critical reason why.

To address this challenge, Nebraska has started raising the bar. In the past two years, it became the last state in the nation to implement state-wide tests of math and science. Those tests have proven more challenging than the locally developed tests individual districts used to administer. This is a promising step, but the state must do more to succeed amid profound political, practical and financial challenges.

Nebraska needs to ensure that all students have opportunities to meet a higher bar: Not enough students—least of all minorities—get the chance to learn challenging content that prepares them for college and careers. While student performance on national tests of math and science is generally on par with national averages, the racial and ethnic achievement gaps in the state are wider. Women, African Americans and Hispanics are underrepresented among those who earn STEM degrees and certificates in college, though they have made small gains since 2001.

Nebraska gets a lower return on its investments in education than other states do. Smart investments will be critical as business leaders work with educators and state leaders to tackle new reforms in lean times.