Byron's Babbles

Impact of STEM and Academic Core Standards Integration in Career and Technical Education

Posted in Education, Education Reform by Dr. Byron L. Ernest on September 27, 2011

The achievement of U.S. students is becoming increasingly important for our nation’s ability to compete successfully in the world economy (Braun, Coley, Jia, & Trapani, 2009). As the Department Head of an Indiana Agriculture Science program who is successfully achieving academic integration I am continually investigating the problem of low student performance and achievement in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) and English and the impact of real-world and relevant application of Career and Technical Education courses on student achievement and performance in these core subjects.

Education has become competitive and my school is striving to meet this environment head on and with success. Simons (2010) wrote, “Today our economic well-being, not just military defense or advantage, is dependent on math and science. All of the world’s major countries are our competitors. So far we are not exactly winning” (p. G-1). The latest global rankings using high school test scores show China significantly beating us on science and math scores (USA Today, 2010). These rankings show the United States at number 15, and Shanghai at number one (USA Today, 2010). It is important for us to study those areas where the STEMs can be taught in a relevant context.

To that end it is very important that academics be fully integrated both vertically and horizontally into all course work. There is no research or evidence to support that non-core, non-academic elective courses, including Career and Technical Education courses, contribute to improve student achievement or performance. There is evidence (Reeves, 2008), however, that emphasis on the core academic subjects promotes student learning. Therefore integration of the STEMs and English is very important for Indiana students. Reeves (2008) said, “This does not make a brief for a curriculum based only on the ‘three R’s,’ but rather insists that every class, regardless of its label, owe a duty to the student and community to reinforce academic standards in math, language arts, social studies, and science” (p. 10-11). The consistent integration of the academic cores into Indiana’s Career and Technical Education disciplines is paramount to student learning. We cannot afford for these courses to be “soft” (Reeves, 2008, p. 11) in terms of including reinforcement of the academic cores.


 Braun, H., Coley, R., Jia, Y., Trapani, C. (2009). Exploring what works in science

      instruction: A look at the eighth-grade science classroom. Princeton, NJ:

Educational Testing Service.

Reeves, D. (2008). Making standards work: How to implement standards-based

      assessments in the classroom, school, and district. Englewood, CO: Lead + Learn


USA Today (2010). “Our view on education: ‘We’re no. 15!’ doesn’t cut it in today’s

global economy. Retrieved on February, 26, 2011 from:

Simons, J. (2010). “Education imbalance: U.S. needs top-notch math, science teachers

to compete in new economy. The Buffalo News (261) 35. Buffalo, NY: OBH, Inc.

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