Silicon Valley Education Foundation (SVEF) offers STEM-based programs to enable students in public schools to master critical math and science skills, with the goal of preparing them for success in high school, college and future careers.
As part of our STEM initiative, SVEF is pleased to present Stepping Up To Science (STEPS), a new course designed to help incoming ninth grade students successfully complete their first A-G college-track science course in high school through an intensive summer program. STEPS provides students with classroom instruction by credentialed high school teachers who use a standards-based curriculum developed specifically for participating students. The program is offered to qualified students and schools, and it includes a professional development component for every STEPS teacher.
STEPS focuses on the skills, knowledge, and confidence students need to successfully complete their first A-G science course in ninth grade. SVEF will evaluate the effectiveness and success of the program for the participating students with the following measurements: 1) gains in proficiency after the summer program; 2) the number and percentage of students placed into a ninth grade A-G science course at the completion of the program; and 3) the science grades of students during the school year.
The program serves students identified by their middle schools as underperforming in science and most likely not currently qualified to enroll in an A-G science course. Assisting these students through STEPS will build the students knowledge and skills that are required to be placed in a college-track science course upon entering high school.
With federal and state education mandates heavily focused on raising reading and math test scores, middle school teachers are often not able to give their students the same level of attention in the study of science. As a result, students often graduate from middle school with minimal science instruction and little to no laboratory experiences. Given the lack of knowledge and hands-on exposure to science, these students are then placed in a general science class instead of an A-G course causing them to be a year behind in their A-G science studies. The goal of Stepping Up To Science is to reverse this trend. By providing a college preparatory science program, we can raise the rates of students placed in an A-G science courses, and improve their odds of college completion.
» Of the 19,916 ninth grade students enrolled in Santa Clara County public high schools, 36% were either not enrolled in an A-G Lab Science course or not enrolled in any science course at all.*
The STEPS program supports the recent commitment of “A to G” requirements by the East Side Union High School District (ESUHSD) in San Jose. Beginning in the 2011-2012 school year, “A to G”, the course standards needed for students to qualify for enrollment at University of California and California State University colleges, will be the default curriculum for all entering high school students. This will address the low student enrollment in science courses and enable more graduates to be eligible for post-secondary education.
Science specialists and teachers at ESUHSD developed the STEPS biology curriculum for their high schools. Thorough analysis of data from former ninth grade students revealed the areas where students have historically struggled in biology; these areas led to the focus of the curriculum. The curriculum developers will also provide professional development to the STEPS teachers on the content and activities. Along with the teachers, teaching assistants and volunteers will help manage the classroom and keep students on target with their studies.
The summer program is hosted on the respective high school campus where each student will be enrolled in for the fall semester. Science teachers lead the instruction in a classroom of approximately 30 students and implement a curriculum including lab activities designed specifically for the students.
The East Side Union High School District expects to see at least 75% of students enrolled in STEPS over the next three years to successfully move into ninth grade biology.
The following public high schools in Santa Clara County partnered with SVEF to bring the STEPS program to over 200 ninth grade students this summer:
*Source: Ed-Data, California Department of Education
Learn about our math program and how it prepares middle school students throughout Silicon Valley to succeed in algebra.
Learn how Stepping Up to Science is getting students ready for their first A-G science class in high school and preparing them for college and career success.
Read why STEM education and mastery of science and math skills is important for preparing students for college and careers in the 21st century.
Download a fact sheet to learn more about Stepping Up to Science and how this program helps students prepare for their first year of college-prep laboratory science in high school.
Thanks to our sponsors: Texas Instruments, SummerHill Homes, Westly Foundation, U.S. Bancorp, Medtronic, JDS Uniphase, Robert Half Foundation and Leo M. Shortino Family Foundation