A Comment About Gov. Inslee’s Announcement of $170,000 STEM Award

Partnership for Science and Engineering Practices (PSEP) is one of our current partnerships to foster STEM collaborations. In this photo, educators from Seattle and Renton public school districts participate in a recent PSEP workshop.


On Aug. 14, Gov. Jay Inslee announced that the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices awarded Washington State a $170,000 grant to support the launch of the STEM Education Innovation Alliance, which is tasked with bringing together business leaders and educators in order to help more students acquire the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) skills they need to qualify for the increasing number of jobs available in STEM fields. A 2013 Washington Roundtable report revealed 25,000 unfilled jobs in the state due to lack of qualified candidates; 80 percent of those jobs were in STEM fields.

The Alliance, approved in 2013, is one of Gov. Inslee’s top legislative priorities. Washington is one of only 14 states that are receiving NGA STEM grant funding.

From the press release:

“The NGA grant will enable the Alliance to convene statewide summits, develop an action plan that aligns education and workforce resources, and develop a STEM report card and dashboard to monitor progress on key STEM efforts. In addition, the NGA is providing staff support from its Policy Academy.

“ ‘STEM-based industries such as aerospace, agriculture, clean energy, life sciences and advanced manufacturing are the backbone of our state’s innovation economy,’ Inslee said. ‘But we can’t take these industries for granted. We need to make sure our education system is keeping students ahead of the curve and providing employers access to a world-class workforce. This grant funding will help us do that.’ “


We are on the front lines.

We at ISB are heartened by Gov. Jay Inslee’s support at the state level for bolstering partnerships across STEM industries and educators via the STEM Education Innovation Alliance. The $170,000 grant from the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices is also a vote of confidence the initiative needs.

But we want to emphasize that, since ISB’s inception in 2000, we have been committed to bridging the gap between educators and STEM professionals. We have built a foundation for meaningful partnerships based on the belief that it is essential to address STEM education from a systems approach in order to effect the advancement of opportunity and access to STEM courses and careers for all students. On an annual basis, one third of ISB’s staff voluntarily contribute time to education and outreach programs.

ISB’s Logan Center for Education (which evolved from the work of the Center for Inquiry Science) provides extensive professional development for thousands of K-12 science educators and administrators. These experiences often include contributions from ISB STEM professionals as well as STEM professionals from across the Puget Sound region.

Recently, the Logan Center for Education played essential roles in the review and adoption of the Next Generation Science Standards, as well as working with school districts across Washington on adapting curriculum for NGSS. As these new standards include Science and Engineering Practices — modeling real world STEM practices within education settings — teachers’ experiences with STEM professionals provide significant insights for successful implementation of NGSS.

The Partnership for Science and Engineering Practices (PSEP) is one of our current partnerships to foster STEM collaborations. The project is compelling in that it is systemic in approach, involving two school districts as they address the implementation of NGSS. ISB and University of Washington Colleges of Engineering and Education, with funding from the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, have been working with Seattle Public Schools and the Renton School District to develop “NGSS curriculum enhancements” purposed to align to the districts’ current science instructional materials to the new standards. STEM professionals from across the Puget Sound region partner with teachers in the development of the curriculum enhancements. The STEM Professionals support teachers in understanding science concepts, but also provide teachers in understanding real world context and practices of the STEM profession. PSEP exemplifies how ISB’s Logan Center for Education recruits, prepares, and supports STEM professionals to engage with teachers in purposeful and strategic professional development.

– Dana Riley Black, Director for Logan Center for Education

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