Symposium to Explore Expanding STEM Learning to Historically Underrepresented Groups

May 19, 2014, 10:31 ET from Educational Testing Service

WASHINGTON, May 19, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Sixty years after Brown v. Board of Education, education in the United States remains separate and unequal for too many children of color, students with disabilities and those living in high-poverty communities. This is especially true in the areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), and distinguished educators, corporate leaders and government officials will gather to address this issue at a symposium Tuesday, May 27, in Washington, D.C.   

The symposium is sponsored by The Leadership Conference Education Fund and Educational Testing Service (ETS). A distinguished and diverse group of speakers will examine how to ensure STEM learning is inclusive, engaging and equally accessible to everyone — including communities of color, high-poverty communities, women and girls, and people with disabilities. It will be held at the National Academy of Sciences, Keck Center, 500 5th St. NW, Washington, D.C., from 9 a.m. to 3:45 p.m.    

"These children lack equal access to the most basic opportunities we know they need in order to graduate high school ready for college and family-supporting careers, including finances, quality early childhood education, a challenging college-preparatory curriculum, qualified and effective teachers, and social and community supports," says Michael Nettles, Senior Vice President of ETS's Policy Evaluation and Research Center. "Science, technology, engineering and mathematics are areas where the loss of so many children at every grade not only threatens the promise of Brown, but is undermining national security and competitiveness. It is clear that the better-paying jobs now and in the future will require both postsecondary education and proficiency in one or more of the STEM fields."

"STEM education can provide historically underrepresented populations with proven pathways for obtaining good jobs and a higher standard of living," adds Wade Henderson, President and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and The Leadership Conference Education Fund. "Yet, according to the Obama administration's Federal STEM Education 5-Year Strategic Plan, today only 2.2 percent of Hispanics and Latinos, 2.7 percent of African Americans, and 3.3 percent of Native Americans and Alaska Natives have earned a first university degree in the natural sciences or engineering by age 24.

"Women represent less than 20 percent of bachelor's degree recipients in fields like computer science and engineering, and hold less than 25 percent of STEM jobs, Henderson continues. "It is time for the nation to examine where and how we are losing so many children along the K–16 STEM pipeline and to accelerate progress in closing both opportunity and achievement gaps that persist."

Speakers at the symposium include:

  • Kena Allison, award-winning physics teacher, Thurgood Marshall Academy PCS
  • Gwendolyn Boyd, President, Alabama State University
  • Tamera Jayasundera, Professor, Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce
  • Valerie Wilson, Deputy Division Director, Division of Graduate Education, National Science Foundation
  • Debra Joy Perez, Vice President for Knowledge Support, Annie E. Casey Foundation
  • Winslow Sargeant, Chief Counsel for Advocacy, Small Business Administration
  • Lorilyn Owens, Director, Oracle Academy North America
  • Kavitha Cardoza, special correspondent, WAMU 88.5
  • David Coleman, President and CEO, College Board®
  • Marybeth Gasman, Professor and Director, The Penn Center for Minority-Serving Institutions
  • Wade Henderson, President and CEO, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and The Leadership Conference Education Fund
  • David Johns, Executive Director, White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans
  • Rose Kirk, President, The Verizon Foundation
  • Catherine E. Lhamon, Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, U.S. Department of Education
  • Shirley Malcom, head of the Directorate for Education and Human Resources Programs of the American Association for the Advancement of Science
  • Maisha Moses, National co-Director, Young People's Project
  • Robert Moses, President and Founder, The Algebra Project
  • Michael Nettles, Senior Vice President, ETS
  • Richard Tapia, Director, Center on Excellence and Equity at Rice University
  • Claus von Zastrow, Director of Research, Change the Equation

For questions about the event, please contact Elizabeth Kingsley at or 1-202-659-0616. For more information about ETS, visit

About ETS
At ETS, we advance quality and equity in education for people worldwide by creating assessments based on rigorous research. ETS serves individuals, educational institutions and government agencies by providing customized solutions for teacher certification, English language learning, and elementary, secondary and postsecondary education, and by conducting education research, analysis and policy studies. Founded as a nonprofit in 1947, ETS develops, administers and scores more than 50 million tests annually — including the TOEFL® and TOEIC ® tests, the GRE ® tests and The Praxis Series ® assessments — in more than 180 countries, at over 9,000 locations worldwide.

About The Leadership Conference Education Fund
The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights is a coalition charged by its diverse membership of more than 200 national organizations to promote and protect the civil and human rights of all persons in the United States. Through advocacy and outreach to targeted constituencies, The Leadership Conference works toward the goal of a more open and just society — an America as good as its ideals. The Leadership Conference was founded in 1950 and has coordinated national lobbying efforts on behalf of every major civil rights law since 1957. The Leadership Conference Education Fund builds public will for federal policies that promote and protect the civil and human rights of all persons in the United States. The Education Fund's campaigns empower and mobilize advocates around the country to push for progressive change in the United States.

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SOURCE Educational Testing Service