Network: Arizona STEM Network

Purpose: The Pathways Guide is a strategic framework that provides an easy to use roadmap for researching, planning and implementing STEM Pathway programs. The Guide walks adopters through a structured process to set up a planning and assessment team, perform an online assessment to identify gaps, strengths, and priorities, and, develop an actionable STEM Pathways Plan. It also provides guidance for funding, examples of successful STEM Pathways programs, and identifies collaborations among Community Colleges, K-12 Education and Industry. Science Foundation Arizona is partnering with Rural Arizona Community Colleges and Community College Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs) across the country to implement STEM Pathways in their communities.

Usage: The tool has been introduced to community college HSIs in Florida, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California. Our work to assist these colleges includes forming a comprehensive internal college STEM team comprised of the CTE, Math and Science faculty, recruiters, advisors, and administrators, aggregating individual assessments of the college’s STEM pathways comprehensiveness, and using the STEM Pathways Guide to perform STEM Planning. Gaps that are identified through this planning process can be addressed using the learning’s from examples available in the Guide or by pursuing federal funding opportunities.

Impacts: Several community colleges have completed a self-assessment of their existing STEM Pathways capabilities with. The outcome is a collective awareness among the group of where the gaps are in their STEM strategies, where they can leverage and share resources internally, and what program, initiative or strategy to implement toward optimizing their STEM pathways. A more competitive proposal can be developed to request the funding needed to close the gap if it is supported by this STEM strategic planning effort.

Prior research or grounding: Arizona’s Design Blueprint, a Gates-funded planning project, informed the components of the pathway model to which we applied deep principles of the Learn and Earn model. These targeted principles include: (1) identification/development of entry and exit points within a pathway specific to adult learners, with an emphasis on the displaced worker and Arizona’s targeted industries, (2) integration of national certification(s) into appropriate roadway programs of study, (3) integration of meaningful internships, and, (4) targeted support strategies for students, parents, teachers, and faculty. Arizona’s STEM Pathway model is based on several broadly-stated goals. One, it is designed to reflect adherence to the philosophy that a primary goal of our educational system is to prepare students for jobs requiring varying levels of preparation and/or credentialing. It also is intended to reframe perceptions and break down existing silos among and between K12 and higher education, as well as sectors often referred to as “career technical education” and “academic.” Additionally, it seeks to more deeply integrate industry-based partnerships and resources into STEM Pathway initiatives.

Contact: Caroline VanIngen-Dunn, 602-682‐2800, cvaningen-dunn@sfaz.org