California high school graduates may soon be able to receive the State Seal of STEM on their diplomas. AB 28 was passed in the state senate and assembly last month and is awaiting Governor Gavin Newsom’s final approval. This bill will allow scholars to display their academic success in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics with a special seal on their diploma.
This is similar to the other two seals that the state of California offers: Golden State Seal Merit Diploma and the State Seal of Biliteracy. The Golden State Seal Merit Diploma, approved in 1996, recognizes high school scholars that have displayed mastery in at least six subject areas. The State Seal of Biliteracy, approved in 2011, recognizes scholars who have demonstrated high proficiency in speaking, reading and writing in a language other than English.
The criteria for earning the State Seal of STEM includes:
1. A 3.0 GPA or higher for all STEM courses in high school.
2. Successfully complete four years of math and science courses in high school.
3. Has one of the following:
a. A score of 3 or higher on an AP science exam
b. A score of 600 or higher on the SAT subject test in science
c. A score of 4 or higher on an International Baccalaureate science exam
d. A grade of B or higher in a college-level science course taken through concurrent enrollment
e. Meet or exceeds standards on the state standard aligned science assessment
4. Has one of the following:
a. A score of 3 or higher on an AP mathematics exam
b. A score of 600 or higher on the SAT subject test in mathematics
c. A score of 4 or higher on an International Baccalaureate mathematics exam
d. A grade of B or higher in a college-level mathematics course taken through concurrent enrollment
e. Meet or exceeds standards on the state standard aligned mathematics assessment
Two additional requirements of AB 28 are that data from the statewide administration of state science assessments aligned to the California Next Generation Science Standards needs to first be available and all California students must have an equal opportunity to engage in the coursework and requirements necessary to earn the State Seal of STEM. These requirements are a step towards reducing the education inequality gap created by differences in race and socioeconomic status.
In order for this bill to be implemented, all California schools must provide students with the opportunity to take four years of science and mathematics including high level courses. Currently, not all California high schools provide this option for their scholars. Often chemistry, physics and higher level mathematics courses are left out of high school education most often because these are some of the hard to fill positions in the statewide teacher shortage. Despite these challenges, the passing of AB 28 will send a clear message that the state of California is committed to STEM education.
As a high school science teacher, the idea of this bill being passed is extremely exciting! My hope is that this will encourage scholars to take four years of science and mathematics while in high school and later pursue a career in the STEM field. STEM is so prevalent in our ever-changing society, and therefore, it is important that students are prepared to tackle these worldwide issues while in high school. My other hope is that this bill will encourage school districts and educational leaders to invest more in STEM education. Our schools need to provide more opportunities to take higher level science and mathematics classes and to experience high quality curriculum, laboratories and hands on experiences for all of our scholars no matter their race or socioeconomic status.
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