The primary focus of ExxonMobil’s philanthropic efforts supporting K-12 U.S. education is to address the STEM challenge. We primarily invest in programs that have the potential to make a national impact to improve educational outcomes in science, technology, engineering and math. In 2013, we invested $38 million in STEM-related programs in the United States. By signing the Commitment to Excellence, we welcome the opportunity to join with other companies that are equally committed to STEM education and improving student outcomes and teacher preparedness.
Research shows that the single-most important factor in improved educational outcomes is the quality of the teacher in the classroom. As a result, ExxonMobil places a significant emphasis on teacher preparedness in math and science, supporting programs such as the Mickelson ExxonMobil Teachers Academy and the National Math and Science Initiative’s UTeach effort. We also support the development and implementation of high standards and rigorous coursework (e.g. Advanced Placement courses and the Common Core State Standards). In addition, we underwrite Bernard Harris Summer Science Camps at 20 universities across the country to inspire underserved middle school students and encourage them to attend college and attain a STEM-related degree.
In 2007, ExxonMobil joined with other companies and foundations for the private sector’s first national effort to meet the STEM challenge: the National Math and Science Initiative (NMSI). As part of the NMSI effort, we partner with U.S. state school systems and universities to identify and measure the most effective programs that support both teachers and students – and then we work to scale them up to the national level.
When teachers enter the classroom, it is only the beginning. They need programs that support their ability to be effective instructors in math and science. In addition, a teacher needs to be part of a results-oriented program with a challenging curriculum. NMSI supports this kind of teacher training and student achievement through the College Readiness Program, which provides training for teachers to help students master difficult Advanced Placement (AP) courses in math, science and English. The National Center for Education Accountability shows that when students take and pass an AP course, they are significantly more likely to graduate from college. Since 2008, NMSI has helped train more than 38,000 AP teachers. Last year alone, more than 109,000 math, science, and English AP exams were taken at NMSI-sponsored schools.
NMSI has already had an impact, dramatically increasing pass rates for AP exams in math, science and English. Over the past three years, schools participating in the NMSI program have recorded triple-digit increases in the number of qualifying scores, and those scores have increased by an average of 185 percent – nearly seven times the national average. Qualifying scores for African-American and Hispanic students are up 235 percent, and female student scores rose by 200 percent in math and science. Even the schools that have only been in the program one year returned remarkable results: qualifying scores in AP math, science and English rose nearly 72 percent last year – more than 10 times the national average.
We also contribute to the UTeach Institute, which in partnership with NMSI, addresses the challenge of developing high-quality STEM teachers. UTeach encourages math and science majors to enter the teaching profession by offering an integrated-degree plan, financial assistance and early teaching experience. As of spring 2013, more than 6,200 students are now enrolled in UTeach programs at 35 universities in 17 states.
The UTeach effort is producing results. Since its inception, more than nine out of 10 UTeach graduates have become teachers. Eight in 10 are still in the classroom five years later – compared to fewer than 65 percent of teachers nationally. Moreover, 45 percent of UTeach graduates go to work in high-need schools.
We provide general support for the National Academy Foundation’s Academy of Engineering (AOE) which was launched in 2007 as a collaboration between NAF, Project Lead The Way (PLTW), and the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering, Inc. (NACME) to provide underrepresented students with the knowledge and skills needed to succeed in STEM careers.
ExxonMobil is committed to making the business case for improved educational outcomes in the United States, and supporting policymakers, academic officials and representatives from civic and business organizations who work to encourage a world-class workforce. ExxonMobil is actively engaged at the national level, and in selected states, to advocate for the adoption and full implementation of the Common Core State Standards.
As co-chair of the Business Roundtable’s education and workforce committee, ExxonMobil Chairman and CEO Rex Tillerson has engaged leading education experts in discussions with BRT members to raise awareness to the challenges the U.S. public education system faces. The BRT and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce recently formed the Higher State Standards Partnership (HSSP) to show the business community’s support for improvements in education across the country, including the Common Core. More information can be found at www.thecommoncore.com.