WASHINGTON – The Verizon Foundation today announced an ambitious, multiyear program to drive student achievement in STEM subjects – science, technology, engineering and math – by helping to change the way teachers teach and students learn. The announcement came at a White House-sponsored event with President Barack Obama and students and teachers at Buck Lodge Middle School in Adelphi, Md.
Over the next three years, the foundation will invest up to $100 million in cash and in-kind contributions in current and new initiatives, which will accelerate professional development for teachers on how to effectively use technology to boost student achievement in STEM.
Current Verizon Foundation programs that integrate technology into the classroom have produced impressive results, including 59 percent of participating teachers reporting improved ability to individualize their instruction; 52 percent of participating students showing increased technology proficiency; 40 percent of participating students demonstrating increased ability in problem solving; and 37 percent showing increased academic achievement.
“If you work alongside teachers and show them exactly how to integrate technology into the classroom in a consistent and meaningful manner with professional development, the results can be very profound,” said Rose Stuckey Kirk, vice president-global corporate citizenship and president of the Verizon Foundation. “In our work in this area, we find that this committed approach is critical. That’s why we are expanding our work to have an even greater impact in the education arena.”
Verizon already supports a number of STEM educational initiatives, including the Verizon Innovative Learning Schools program and the Verizon Innovative App Challenge.
The Innovative Learning Schools program, a partnership between the International Society for Technology in Education and the Verizon Foundation, is a professional-development program for teachers at schools in underserved areas. The program currently includes 24 schools. Teachers receive two years of onsite and online professional development that prepares them to better incorporate mobile technology into classroom learning and makes STEM subjects more appealing to students.
The Verizon Innovative App Challenge, a partnership between the foundation and the Technology Student Association, is a national competition in which students design a mobile application concept that addresses a need or problem in their local schools or communities. Winning school teams earn up to $20,000 to further STEM education in their schools, as well as tablets for team members courtesy of Samsung Telecommunications America.
Measuring for Success
“Not only are these programs providing teachers and students with the technology and learning skills they can put to immediate use, we are measuring the initiatives’ results to see if they’re making a difference,” said Kirk. “Based on teacher feedback and some real-world examples, that’s happening.”
One Innovative Learning School in Massachusetts saw striking results. A number of its students had consistently failed a state standardized test in biology prior to the VILS program, preventing them from graduating and increasing the likelihood that they would drop out. After one year in the program, all the biology students passed.
A survey of students in the inaugural Verizon Innovative App Challenge found that 86 percent of winners were interested in taking future computer programming classes, and 60 percent of winners were likely to pursue a STEM-related career.
Given the initial impact of its programs on thousands of teachers and students, Verizon is expanding its efforts to spur student and teacher innovation in STEM in underserved schools and communities. These new initiatives are being designed not only to continue teacher training and professional development, but to mobilize the community to strengthen the opportunities for students to learn and achieve by using technology. These new efforts include a nationwide challenge with software developers to create new applications to enhance math and science education; a virtual teacher training initiative to reach thousands of educators with new ways to integrate science and math technologies in the classroom; an internship program to help students learn critical 21st century skills while solving business problems in their local communities; and student-mentoring programs with Verizon employee volunteers and business partners.