The University of Massachusetts Amherst

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Dashboard monitors Commonwealth's progress on key indicators for growing STEM talent

In 2003, the Massachusetts State Legislature created the STEM Pipeline Fund to address the growing talent shortage of STEM workers and designated the Department of Higher Education (DHE), as the administrator of the fund.

The DHE, with approval from the Governor’s STEM Advisory Council, contracted with the Institute to develop a new statewide science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) indicators system to benchmark Massachusetts’ progress in key educational and economic areas associated with the Pipeline Fund’s goals.

The result is the Data Dashboard. The dashboard tracks the goals of the STEM Plan 2.0 and developed to present the data through three distinct views: 1) overall progress relative to each of the STEM goals, 2) overall state progress with respect to the national average, and 3) specific information related to subgroups.

From the 2015 Dashboard’s Executive Summary: “The information included in the 2015 Massachusetts STEM Data Dashboard presents a promising but mixed picture of progress toward statewide goals, with increases in many areas but also abundant challenges. The state has improved overall in relation to a number of indicators, but faces persistent disparities with regard to gender, race/ethnicity, and income. The state needs to be conscious that, in its pursuit of increasing interest, preparation, and certificate/degree completion, it does not leave certain groups behind. Present trends show Black, Latino, and low-income students as possessing the greatest interest in STEM but below average achievement. On the other hand, White and not-low-income students demonstrate less interest in STEM but above average achievement.

This mismatch between interest and readiness to pursue STEM subjects and careers suggests that different populations require different, targeted interventions and investments. To effect sustainable change at the later stages of the pipeline (e.g., college certificate/degree completion or employment), the state may need to adjust its approach to catalyzing and supporting change at the K-12 level. STEM majors or jobs are not something one can easily switch into late in the pipeline: students need to fulfill certain knowledge or skill requirements first. While efforts at the post-secondary level can have a beneficial impact on the pipeline, the greatest returns will be derived by simultaneous interventions/investments at earlier points in a student’s development.”

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University of Massachusetts Amherst

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