CCT is conducting a multi-year external evaluation of the Eastern Alliance in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (EAST). EAST is a cooperative agreement to increase the diversity of students with disabilities receiving degrees in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) and ultimately entering STEM careers. The first phase of the program ran from 2006 to 2008. The second phase runs until 2013. Specifically, EAST seeks to:
- Increase the number of students with disabilities that enter STEM majors in college, focusing specifically on southern Maine
- Increase numbers of students who successfully complete those degrees
- Increase the number of STEM faculty and high school teachers trained in learning strategies for students with disabilities, and universal design in course design and delivery
- Sustain the activities through institutionalization at the University of Southern Maine (USM) and at partner institutions
- Share the Pipeline model nationally
In order to address these goals, EAST has designed a model that includes the creation of a Pipeline of supports and services for high school and college students with disabilities as they successfully negotiate critical transitions. The EAST Pipeline focuses on undergraduate STEM research experiences, and the development of capacity within high schools, community colleges, and USM to fully support students with disabilities. The model addresses key areas for increasing the numbers of students with disabilities enrolled in STEM at USM and partner community colleges; strategies to retain these students; and support for students during the critical transition points of high school to college, 2 -year to 4 -year college, and college to graduate school or work force.
The goal of the evaluation is to yield summative results about the impact of the project on students and educators participating in the project activities. Emerging findings will also help to guide the implementation of project activities. The evaluation will utilize qualitative and quantitative measures to assess if project activities contribute to the improvement of the rates of participation, retention, and advancement of individuals with disabilities in STEM secondary and postsecondary education and result in improvements of academic and professional climates by increasing recognition of needs and abilities of individuals with disabilities.