Event Information

STEM programs difficult to judge: Funds available but results hard to measure

Date: 10/29/2014 through 10/29/2014

Alice Culp, South Bend Tribune Staff Writer

In 2012, the Indiana Commission for Higher Education set a goal that 60 percent of Hoosiers obtain credentials or degrees beyond high school by 2025.

It based its goal on a Georgetown University study, which suggested that more than 60 percent of expected Indiana job vacancies in 2020 would require postsecondary education.

Currently, Indiana doesn’t compare well to the nation when it comes to higher education.

Policymakers have zeroed in on STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education as a way to improve the work force, providing federal money for programs focusing on these areas. As a result, schools and organizations across the state have introduced dozens of STEM programs.

The education is important. About 96 percent of STEM jobs require more than a high school diploma or a college degree, according to the Indiana Department of Workforce Development. And the number of STEM jobs in the state is projected to increase in the next decade, bringing higher wages with them.

But how successful are these programs? It’s difficult to quantify. So many federal agencies and private foundations offer STEM grants that the amount of money being spent on such programs is unclear, and there seems to be no one agency that keeps detailed records of all STEM-related spending.

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