Evidence suggests the following benchmarks are important markers of future success along the STEM continuum. These benchmarks informed the STEM in Minnesota cradle-to-career project committee in selecting key measures.

Early childhood screening

Preschool screening can be critical for early identification of health and developmental needs that may interfere with learning. The earlier children are screened, the more time there is for them to receive help before entering school (1).

PreK environment supportive of learning

Children whose PreK environment provided them with early literacy and numeracy skills, a positive orientation toward learning, and good health perform better in reading and math in early elementary school (2).

Quality early childhood education that includes math and science

Development of STEM skills begins in the early years. Research has found that math knowledge in the preschool years can predict later school success in math and other subjects. High-quality early childhood education includes math and science content which children can experience through fun, play-based activities suitable for their age. The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) provides early childhood program standards which include math and science (3).

References:

1. Mueller, D. (2006). Tackling the achievement gap head on. Retrieved from Wilder Research website: http://www.wilder.org/redirects/TacklingtheAchievementGapHeadOn.html

2. Denton, K., & West, J. (2002). Children’s reading and mathematics achievement in kindergarten and first grade (NCES No. 2002125). Retrieved from National Center for Education Statistics website: http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2002/2002125.pdf

3. MacFarland, J., & Krupicka, R. (2013). Tomorrow’s science, technology, engineering, and math workforce starts with early education. Retrieved from Ready Nation website: http://www.readynation.org/uploads//20130318_ReadyNationSTEMBrieflowresnoendnotes.pdf