Michigan Adds STEM Endorsement to Diplomas

A change to the education law in Michigan has created a "STEM endorsement" for students in grades 7 to 12. According to Act 241, to qualify under the legislation for the designation, the student needs to earn at least six credits in math, six in science, half a credit for course work involved technology activities and half a credit for engineering activities. The extra tag would show up on a student's transcript or diploma.

The endorsement, according to an analysis of the bill, would help students who earned it to "stand out as hard workers and good students." For those who seek work in the skilled trades, the study suggested, a STEM background "could translate into placement into more specialized positions, given the evidence of proficiency."

The Michigan Association of School Boards came out against the legislation, arguing that most of the courses required under the bill for the endorsement were already required by the Michigan Merit Curriculum. There was also concern that it wouldn't assist students in career and technical education courses.

The idea came from an advisory council report issued in 2016 that proposed the endorsement as one component in a plan to address a STEM gap in the state, alongside a campaign to build "STEM awareness," use of incentives to encourage STEM teachers to stay in their jobs and implementation of a model for regional collaboration. "The council strongly supports the concept of recognizing students who have engaged in high quality STEM activities," the report stated. "We commit to partnering with the legislature to discuss, create and implement a meaningful credential for students."

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.