Over the last 7 years, our schools have dropped in grades dramatically. Currently 50% of our schools have a "C" rating. It is unacceptable. You can see our school grades here: https://www.indianriverschools.org/school-grades
Looking at the district report card is a great example of why we must do better. We have consistently had astonishing high discipline rates that are far below standard. Only 52% of our students are proficient in reading and 53% proficient in math. We are below standard in growth of students from Grades 4 through 10. Read more at:
The School District of Indian River County has underperformed in math and science achievement since 2012. Why are we falling behind in an educational area that is projected to be the fastest growing (23/25 top paying majors are STEM fields) occupational field since 2012? Here’s why:
1. IRCSD has not made STEM a priority. There isn’t a STEM Community Committee, nor a STEM Strategic Plan to implement in our schools. When our school district doesn’t make it a priority, neither do our schools and subsequently our teachers.
2. Missed grant writing opportunities and budget constraints. Our district doesn’t have a grant writer and no movement to hire someone to write grants has been made since a suggestion was made by the School Board in January 2017. STEM grants (Federal and philanthropy organizations) are essential to giving our underperforming programs a boost to enhance student performance. When it is clear our school district has a lack of financial resources, grants can supply the resources that enable our students succeed.
3. Local organizations and industry want to work with the school district to provide STEM learning. Due to lack of engagement from the school district, these organizations haven’t been able to create relationships to implement learning.
4. Computer science is virtually non-existent in our high schools. Only in the last couple of years data has shown that Sebastian River High and Vero Beach High had a computer science class. Student enrollment is in the single digits at VBHS and while there were 24 students at SRHS, only 21% of the class passed.
5. IRCSD has a qualified STEM teacher shortage. The district is not recruiting teachers who are strong in math and science skills. Teachers want to work in school districts where they feel valued and supported by district leadership. The escalating turnover, lack of teachers and low morale, doesn’t entice new teachers.
6. Struggling science fair participation. The number of participants continue to decline every year. Our students don’t have laboratories, supplies or mentors to help them prepare and present at the Science Fair level. Without support and resources, students struggle to compete.
It’s time the School District of Indian River County made STEM a priority.
The U.S. Department of Education released a report in 2015 called STEM 2026 – A Vision for Innovation in STEM Education. You can read it here:
The Information Technology Industry Council report titled Moving Education Forward: Strengthening STEM in Today’s Classrooms can be found here: