Washington, D.C., Aug. 16, 2007—As the federal government seeks to improve America’s competitiveness with international counterparts in the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields by passing the America COMPETES Act, several minority-serving colleges and universities have already taken innovative action to improve STEM undergraduate education. These schools have demonstrated clear success by increasing student enrollment and graduation in related degree programs and remain committed to expanding and diversifying the STEM workforce and closing the achievement gaps in the STEM fields among Black, Hispanic, and Native American students.
The Institute for Higher Education Policy (IHEP) today released a report that profiles an 11-year successful initiative supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to improve STEM enrollment and graduation rates at select minority-serving institutions (MSIs)—Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Hispanic-Serving Institutions, and Tribal Colleges and Universities. The report, A Model of Success: The Model Institutions for Excellence Program’s Successful Leadership in STEM Education, tracks the range of successful strategies utilized at the schools under the program called the Model Institutions for Excellence (MIE).
Proven Success in Stem Education at MSIs
- Overall growth in STEM graduation rates between 1994–95 and 2002–03 increased by 47 percent at MIE schools, compared to 19 percent nationwide.
- Between 1994–95 and 2002–03, overall growth in STEM enrollments increased by 16 percent nationwide, while at MIE institutions enrollment in STEM majors increased by 24 percent.
- Enrollment at MIE institutions in computer science rose by 90 percent, compared with 45 percent nationwide.
- Faculty who are ethnically underrepresented in STEM fields nationwide showed a 32 percent increase at MIE institutions. This figure is 4 percent higher than the increase of all STEM faculty.
Stem Models Thrive on Strategy
- The MIE model consists of a comprehensive set of proven strategies that include (1) recruitment and pre-college transition initiatives, (2) student support, (3) undergraduate research, (4) faculty development, (5) curriculum development, (6) physical infrastructure, and (7) graduate and science career initiatives.
- Additional elements are critical to the success at MIE schools such as committed administrators, faculty, and staff and long-term institutional funding. Once in place, implementing these essential strategies brings about benefits to the schools by way of stronger infrastructures to encourage and support their students from high school through graduate school.
- Successful incorporation of the MIE model can help to increase the quality of STEM education for underrepresented populations, produce replicable models at other institutions, and influence higher education policy.
“The U.S. higher education system is at a critical turning point,” said IHEP President Jamie P. Merisotis. “We have been unable to break out of our pattern of poor performance in the STEM fields, and there continues to be a substantial gap in these fields between minority and majority student performance at the university level. The data collected and analyzed in this report provides substantial evidence of MIE’s success and its significant role in increased recruitment and retention among minorities. MIE developed a very effective model that should be replicated nationwide.”
The MIE schools include: Bowie State University (MD), the Oyate Consortium [composed of Oglala Lakota, Sisseton-Wahpeton & Sitting Bull Colleges] (SD), Spelman College (GA), Universidad Metropolitana (PR), the University of Texas at El Paso, and Xavier University (LA). The schools were chosen based on their commitment to successfully preparing students in the STEM fields.
A Model of Success: The Model Institutions for Excellence Program’s Successful Leadership in STEM Education is part of a series of outreach activities about the MIE program supported by NSF and managed by IHEP. The Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities, National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education, and American Indian Higher Education Consortium also participated in the dissemination efforts under the umbrella of the Alliance for Equity in Higher Education. To download a free copy of the report or any IHEP publication, visit the organization’s Web site at www.ihep.org.
The America COMPETES Act, also known as the America Creating Opportunities to Meaningfully Promote Excellence in Technology, Education, and Science Act, was passed by both houses of Congress last month and signed by President Bush on August 9. The new law strives to bolster the capacity and skills of the nation’s workforce in high demand fields through improvements in math and science education and a strong commitment to research. It also follows through on a commitment to ensure U.S. students, teachers, businesses, and workers are prepared to continue leading the world in innovation, research and technology—well into the future.