STEM Equity Pipeline Program Improvement Process for Equity
The NAPE Education Foundation (NAPEEF) started the STEM Equity Pipeline with funding
from the National Science Foundation in the fall of 2007 (HRD-0734056). The project
was designed to translate current research on gender equity in STEM into practice
and transfer this knowledge to and through state offices of education, especially
those responsible for the implementation of the Perkins Act. Implementing the
Program Improvement Process for Equity in STEMTM (PIPE-STEMTM),
the project provides training in an institutional change model developed originally
by NAPE via consultation to the Office of Vocational and Adult Education, U.S. Department
of Education (USDoEd, 2002), to assist state education agencies as they provided
technical assistance and professional development to local education agencies to
improve their performance on the accountability measures defined in the Perkins
Act. PIPE-STEM™ is a data-driven decision making institutional change process focused
on increasing the participation, completion and transition of females and other
underrepresented groups in STEM related programs of study. The process includes
Module 1: ORGANIZE.
How to organize a pipeline team that includes secondary and postsecondary partners,
at a minimum. Participants will have all the tools necessary to conduct an orientation
session, collect pilot site baseline data, and prepare the team for training.
Module 2: EXPLORE.
How to analyze national, state and school/college gendered performance in STEM by
comparing performance levels between schools/ colleges, student populations, and
programs over time. Participants will use summary statistics and basic graphs and
charts to document performance gaps, based on gender, race/ethnicity, and other
available disaggregated data, and identify improvement priorities. Using accountability
systems and the data they hold to help inform the institutional decision process
has proven to be extremely effective (Wayman, 2006)
Module 3: DISCOVER.
How to determine the most important and most direct causes of gendered and other
groups performance gaps that can be addressed by improvement strategies and specific
solutions. Participants are encouraged to use multiple methods to identify and evaluate
potential causes and select a few critical root causes as the focus of improvement
efforts. The cornerstone resource for this and the next step is a distillation of
the last twenty years of research literature on nontraditional career preparation,
especially women’s access to STEM careers. Nontraditional Career Preparation: Root
Causes and Strategies (NAPEEF 2009) creates a framework for teams to understand
the barriers that female students face in STEM programs and develop their action
research plans to validate their root cause theory. This resource has been the most
widely used tool.
Module 4: SELECT.
Using the results from the DISCOVER process, participants align their identified
root causes with potential solutions to identified performance gaps, including both
improvement strategies and program models. They review and evaluate the underlying
logic of these solutions and the empirical evidence of their effectiveness in achieving
performance results. This module also uses Nontraditional Career Preparation: Root
Causes and Strategies (NAPE-EF 2009) to align root causes with strategies
to assist teams in selecting a solution that has the greatest potential to eliminate
the barriers students are facing in the identified STEM program.
Module 5: ACT.
Participants explore practical yet rigorous methods and tools for evaluating solutions
before full implementation at the state or institutional levels and then develop
plans to implement research-based strategies for program improvement.
As participants learn, they are also transforming their communities to
better prepare a diverse STEM workforce. By the end of PIPE-STEMTM,
participants are able to:
- Identify differences in STEM participation and performance, and benchmark local
STEM data with regional, state, and national data for students disaggregated by
gender, race, disability and socio-economic status.
- Explain the research concerning females’ and other groups’ underrepresentation in
- Implement and evaluate research-based activities and instruction that will improve
females’ and other underrepresented groups’ achievement in, retention in, and completion
of STEM courses.
- Enhance the achievement, participation and retention levels, and completion rates
of diverse groups of students in STEM courses.
In addition to training on program improvement, team members may access additional
professional development support publicly available and offered by NAPEEF through
the STEM Equity Pipeline professional development through participation at the NAPE
Professional Development Institute, and through webinars accessed through the STEM
Equity Pipeline’s Virtual Learning Community (VLC). Project materials are available
via website, as are other training materials, professional development tools and
resources, archived webinars, training modules and a data base of online resources
both developed by NAPE and shared among its stakeholders.
Local PIPE-STEM Site Outcomes
In interviews conducted by the project’s independent evaluators, PIPE-STEM™ site
participants identified five significant benefits:
- understanding and using data;
- increased awareness of and commitment to STEM equity issues;
- new partnerships created;
- increase in female and other underrepresented groups participation and retention
in STEM related programs of study; and
- project sustainability and expansion.
Site participants have reported an increase in female participation rates as a result
of implementing their selected strategy as part of the PIPE-STEMTM. Examples
include: an increase of females enrolled in Project Lead The Way from 8 to 30 girls
at one site; and from 0 to 11 out of 46 senior students (23.9%), and 0 to 10 out
of 30 (33.3%) junior students at another site; increase in girls participating in
a STEM summer camp from 3 to over 20; increase in females participating in auto
technology from 7(12%) to 21(36%); increase in women in electronics and telecommunications
from 12 (7%) to 21 (12%); increase of senior girls in advanced level math from 15%
to 55% in two years.
Five-Step Program Improvement Training Resources