These 5 Trends Will Dominate STEM + Education in 2019

January 09, 2019

By Talia Milgrom-Elcott

While 2018 was a momentous year for STEM education, with scientists and teachers running for office in unprecedented numbers and a steady stream of news reports on the value of a STEM degree, 2019 is gearing up to be even bigger. Today, my organization, 100Kin10, releases its annual Trends Report, a synthesis of thousands of data points that predict trends and “look-aheads” that will define STEM and education in 2019. Here are just a few:

We've seen more educators move into elected positions throughout the country.DESIGN BY MELISSA CETLIN

  1. Perceptions Of Teaching Will Improve

The teaching profession has suffered from a lack of prestige. Recent polls show that most parents don’t want their children to become teachers.



But the profession is gaining in stature. In the midterms, voters showed strong support for candidates with backgrounds in teaching. Educators will account for 15% of state lawmakers in the coming year. There is also broad respect among the public for teachers who protest for better pay. Recent polling found that 73% of respondents said they would support public school teachers in their community who went on strike for higher pay.

Research by the Colorado School of Mines has found that STEM teachers experience greater job satisfaction than other STEM professionals, and a team of organizations has taken that research and developed resources to debunk related myths about teaching. We are banking on perception as a lagging indicator ready for an adjustment.


  1. Teacher Shortages Will Continue To Strain The System, But Solutions Are Possible

Teacher shortages are growing across the country. According to the Wall Street Journal, public school teachers quit their jobs at the highest rate on record in 2018, due to low pay and a strong economy that holds the promise of more lucrative employment. This has led to acute shortages of qualified teachers, especially in STEM. Those shortages aren’t going anywhere in 2019.

To fill classrooms, some school districts are resorting to stop-gap solutions like allowing people with emergency credentials to lead classrooms, which can result in unprepared teachers. We are heartened by supports for emergency-credentialed teachers to become fully certified and customized tools to help teacher-prep programs and school districts deal with STEM teacher deficits. It is noteworthy that California and Pennsylvania are doubling down on teacher residencies, intensive programs where aspiring teachers prioritize hands-on, practical learning in K-12 classrooms, guided by master teachers. Teacher residencies have consistently prepared teachers for shortage areas who remain in the classroom long past the national average.

As communities and officials continue to grapple with shortages in 2019, we predict continued energy around teacher residencies at the federal and state levels, as well as other initiatives, like improving teaching environments, to prevent shortages from emerging in the first place.

We are seeing more creativity as school districts move to fill teacher roles with high-quality individuals.DESIGN BY MELISSA CETLIN

  1. A Stronger Effort To Design Schools Where Both Students And Teachers Thrive

Too often, school leaders create a dichotomy: either students or teachers can flourish, but not both. The opposite is true. Research shows that the only sustainable path to student success is through schools where teachers and students thrive.

In 2019, we expect to see greater efforts from school administrators and others to build stronger work environments for teachers. We predict that the spike in attrition will put a fine point on the need, and that the work being done by leading education organizations to integrate professional growth into the school day and measure positive work environment in schools will have a ripple effect on how we create schools that are also great places to work.

  1. STEM Is Engineering The Future Workforce, Whether You Like It Or Not

It’s no secret that STEM jobs often yield higher paychecks, and that STEM skills are necessary for our current and future workforce. Over the past year, we’ve seen that PK–12 learning is becoming more intertwined with the practical side of STEM. We saw this at the national level in April, when leaders from the public, private and nonprofit sectors gathered for “STEM Solutions: Workforce of Tomorrow” to discuss strategies for building a stronger STEM workforce, and in July, when the Perkins Act was reauthorized, emphasizing the need to develop career and technical pathways that align with STEM. We expect this will continue to be the case. But . . .

  1. Building STEM Skills To Create a Well-Rounded Student

Increasingly, educators and others are coming to realize that STEM skills can serve as a foundation for a well-rounded education. At 100Kin10, we are taking note that expert teachers from across the country have pointed out that the myth that STEM is only about hard skills is slowly waning and that funders like the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative are embracing the “whole child” approach to learning, combining physical, mental, social-emotional, and cognitive development with traditional academics. Because STEM is uniquely suited to student-driven learning, collaborative work, and experimentation, we expect to see STEM learning take the lead in strengthening metacognitive and social-emotional skills. We also expect to see a greater focus on anchoring STEM learning in joy, whether in the classroom or outside it (such as in programs offered by the  New York Botanical Garden and the San Diego Zoo).


I lead 100Kin10, a new model for networked, nimble and iterative collaboration that has relentlessly focused on identifying—and solving—some of our most intractable social challenges. 100Kin10, which began as a call in President Obama’s 2011 State of the Union address for 100,000 excellent STEM teachers in 10 years, is on track to hit the goal on time, with hundreds of leading organizations from across sectors coming together in an unprecedented movement to train and retain 100,000 excellent STEM teachers by 2021. We are proving it’s possible to tackle large, systemic challenges. Prior to founding 100Kin10, I was a program officer at Carnegie Corporation of New York. I’ve been published or profiled in the Washington Post, the Boston Globe, Smithsonian, CNN Money and others. I am a frequent public speaker and moderator, focusing on social innovation, science and tech, education, philanthropy and the tenuous balancing act that is running a startup, being a mother and trying to have a life. I live in Brooklyn with my husband and three young kids.



Talia Milgrom-Elcott is the founder and executive director of 100Kin10(@100Kin10).

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