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Massachusetts Seeks to Improve Math, Science, Technology Education

Posted by Andre Mayer on Feb 23, 2011 9:22:00 AM

The Massachusetts economy relies upon a workforce of world-class science, technology, engineering, and math professionals, yet every year thousands of promising young people – particularly black and Hispanic students, female students, and students from low-income families - leave high school without having taken the challenging courses required to succeed in these fields.

Science Technology Engineering & MathAIM has signed on as a lead association partner of the Mass Math + Science Initiative (MMSI) a five-year, $30 million initiative to expand access and improve outcomes in college-level Advanced Placement high school courses.  MMSI is the state's largest high school math and science program aimed at underserved students, involving 45 public high schools across Massachusetts. The MMSI approach includes extensive teacher training and mentoring, tutoring and other academic supports for students, as well as privately-funded financial awards for teachers and students. Schools participating in the program sign performance agreements with MMSI, which include annual enrollment and achievement targets.

MMSI was launched by Mass Insight Education in partnership with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts as part of the National Math and Science Initiative.  Massachusetts is one of six states selected to participate in this innovative privately-funded program.  In its first three years, MMSI has increased AP enrollments in participating schools from about 4,000 to more than 8,000 today.

The challenge we face is highlighted by a recent report from the College Board showing that while Massachusetts ranks high (5th) among the states in overall Advanced Placement (AP) participation and performance, it lags on measures for equity for Hispanic (48th) and African-American (17th) students.  These two groups accounted for 18.1 percent of the class of 2010 in the state’s high schools, but only 7.3 percent of successful AP test-takers.

Researchers from Worcester Polytechnic Institute, analyzing the AP data, found that the 21 high schools that have participated in the Mass Math + Science Initiative over the past two years demonstrated significant progress toward closing achievement gaps with regard to race, income and gender. The race gap in performance between non-minority and minority students, conditional on gender and income, more than halves for MMSI schools; the gender gap is nearly halved; and the effect of income is reduced by almost two-thirds.

AIM believes that the continuation and expansion of such efforts throughout Massachusetts must be a priority as we consider the long-term future of our commonwealth.

For more information about MMSI, visit www.massinsight.org/mmsi.

Topics: Science Technology Engineering & Math, Associated Industries of Massachusetts, AIM, Education

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