Texas high schools add engineering classes in bid to boost math and science education

Source: The Dallas Morning News

By Katherine Leal Unmuth

Nov 24, 2009

Texas high schools are racing to add engineering courses as state universities battle to increase the low number of students pursuing degrees in math and science disciplines. Schools are trying to set up alliances with local university engineering programs and industry leaders to better train teachers and write course guides.

At the same time, officials at the state's engineering schools are frustrated with high dropout rates from their programs.

American students aren't pursuing careers in engineering as much as foreign students. And according to Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills scores, students are struggling most in science and math.

Most efforts to add courses are recent and still forming. The State Board of Education recently approved an engineering course that would be counted as a fourth-year science credit.

The Texas Education Agency and private donors also are funding the start-up of high school academies across the state with the T-STEM science, technology, engineering and mathematics initiative.

The Texas initiative aims to spur higher achievement in the disciplines in an effort to make students better prepared for pursuing such professions in college, therefore boosting Texas' long-term economic success.

The initiative targets first-generation and low-income students. The schools enroll by a lottery system and not competitive admissions based on academics.

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