MADISON – The Wisconsin Technology Council has recommended that state business leaders, educators and policy leaders embrace targeted efforts to advance science, technology, engineering and math education.
A report released Tuesday, Educating a Tech-Savvy Workforce in Wisconsin, caps a series of town hall-style meetings produced by the Tech Council to gather citizen opinion about STEM education. Held in January through March, the meetings attracted about 575 professionals, business owners and educators who discussed current and future worker needs in STEM fields.
The report outlines five recommendations to help Wisconsin educate a workforce equipped to compete in the 21st century “Knowledge Economy.” Recommendations are:
• Use student assessments effectively – All students should be motivated by relevant, engaging assessments that are dynamic in analysis and are linked to 21st century skills, including high school assessments that support college or vocational readiness.
• Provide teachers with the training they need – Wisconsin teacher licensing requirements should include latitude for teachers whose backgrounds are in professions outside of education. Wisconsin should revive summer training academies with a financially sustainable model involving both public and private support.
• Engage businesses in meaningful ways – Develop a statewide initiative modeled after Minnesota’s “getSTEM” initiative to help businesses and education connect in tangible, deliberate ways. One Minnesota technique involves online matching of business resources with school needs.
• Celebrate successes in a highly visible, public way – An annual awards program for excellence in STEM education should become part of a high-profile conference that attracts researchers, entrepreneurs and investors who have a stake in a highly trained workforce.
• Make STEM education a statewide public policy priority – The governor and Legislature should establish a statewide task force that tracks best practices at home and in other states, engages businesses in STEM education on a continuing basis, encourages a PK-16 collaborative approach to STEM education and develops recommendations for long-term funding of effective STEM education.
Educating a Tech-Savvy Workforce in Wisconsin will be available online at the Wisconsin Technology Council website at www.wisconsintechnologycouncil.com
“The United States and Wisconsin have been slowly but steadily losing ground to other nations when it comes to producing science, technology, engineering and math graduates,” Tech Council President Tom Still said. “Wisconsin can fight and even reverse that trend by embracing proven ways to engage students, teachers and businesses. A deliberate public-private strategy can help produce a workforce that will enhance Wisconsin as a competitive, attractive place to build a business.”
The report noted the success of programs such as Project Lead the Way, Science Olympiad and FIRST Robotics, which have private roots and have been adopted in a growing number of public and private schools.
The Tech Council is the independent, non-partisan science and technology adviser to the governor and the Legislature. Through its Wisconsin Innovation Network and Wisconsin Angel Network programs, the Tech Council provides additional outreach and services statewide.