An Oklahoma summer academy program is providing a life-changing college and career experience for middle and high school students across the state.
It’s also helping increase the percentage of Oklahoma students who meet ACT College Readiness Benchmarks in mathematics and science. And it’s introducing them to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) careers, which are projected to be in high demand in the coming decade.
The Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education (OSRHE) funds the summer academies through grants to participating in-state colleges and universities. While open to all Oklahoma students, the academies are geared toward those who may be first-generation college students and those who may show potential in the STEM fields.
Since 1990, nearly 20,000 students have experienced campus life while exploring career options in STEM. Students stay on campus for the one- or two-week academies, which combine classroom learning with hands-on experience. A total of 33 academies on 21 campuses will serve about 1,000 students in summer 2013.
“I’ve seen firsthand how the summer academies have changed some students’ lives and given them a whole new view of what their futures could entail.”
Jeannie Huggins, science teacher, Tulsa, Oklahoma
SUMMER ACADEMY OUTCOMES
A close look at the data for Oklahoma summer academy participants and their future Oklahoma collegiate experience indicates that:
- They are about twice as likely to declare a science, engineering, or math major than all Oklahoma college students.
- They are better prepared when they arrive at college as evidenced by a remediation rate about one third that of the state average. Remediation means students must take developmental classes before tackling credit-bearing college courses.
- More than 80 percent attend an Oklahoma college or university immediately after high school graduation, compared to 58 percent of the state’s total high school graduates.
- More than 80 percent earn at least a bachelor’s degree at an Oklahoma college or university, compared to about 50 percent of the state’s total high school graduates.
“The academies help students figure out what they could be when they grow up,” said Cindy Brown, director of the summer academies, and director, student preparation for OSRHE. “They build in students a sense of accomplishment in mathematics and science.”
The summer academies have also played a role in improving Oklahoma students’ scores on ACT Explore® and ACT Plan®, both of which OSRHE has funded since 1993 on a voluntary basis for all Oklahoma public and private schools. Over the past five years, the percentage of state’s students meeting the ACT College Readiness Benchmarks has increased from 32 percent to 37 percent for mathematics and from 24 percent to 26 percent for science.
In addition, the academies are achieving one of their main purposes: increased interest in STEM careers. OSRHE research shows that Oklahoma students who have indicated an interest in math or science through ACT Explore are significantly more likely to complete a math or science degree than those who don’t indicate that interest.
“We know from national data that students who have an academic goal early are more likely to focus on academic preparation for college. This makes the State Regents’ investment in these summer academies even more important to the future of our state and our students,” said Brown.