Special to 1812Blockhouse

The Ohio Department of Higher Education (ODHE) has been selected to receive a $3 million grant to fund Ohio Strong Start in Science (OhioSSS), a comprehensive four-year program designed to improve student performance in gateway science courses and promote degree advancement in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields.

The Ohio SSS grant was awarded by the Ascendium Education Group, a nonprofit organization that invests in initiatives designed to increase the number of learners from low-income backgrounds who complete postsecondary degrees, certificates, and workforce training programs.

To meet the workforce demands of the 21st century economy, Ohio must increase the number of graduates from degree programs in STEM fields. Unfortunately, introductory-level courses in STEM majors too frequently act as barriers rather than entries. Between 22% and 30% of students taking introductory chemistry, biology, and human anatomy and physiology courses do not successfully complete the course. Failure in these courses can lead to students leaving STEM fields or dropping out of college altogether.

The Ohio Strong Start in Science project will provide colleges and their science faculty support to review placement procedures, redesign curriculum, and institute academic supports in introductory chemistry, biology, and human anatomy and physiology courses. OhioSSS is intended to help keep students on the path to graduate with a degree in a STEM or healthcare field. The current participating schools are:

  • Central Ohio Technical College
  • Cincinnati State Technical and Community College
  • Clark State College
  • Columbus State Community College
  • Cuyahoga Community College
  • Lakeland Community College
  • Lorain County Community College
  • Marion Technical College
  • Miami University
  • North Central State College
  • Rhodes State College
  • Shawnee State University
  • Sinclair Community College
  • Stark State College
  • University of Cincinnati
  • Wright State University
  • Zane State College

These colleges and universities will serve more than 186,000 students through their committment to participate in OhioSSS.

“Ascendium is pleased to support this initiative, which continues Ohio’s tradition of ambitious institutional improvements to enhance outcomes for learners from low-income backgrounds,” Ascendium Senior Program Officer Sue Cui said. “We encourage college and faculty leaders in other states to take inspiration from Ohio’s proactive approach in advancing the STEM workforce.”

“We are grateful to have received this grant for the Strong Start in Science project,” ODHE Chancellor Mike Duffey said. “It will be used to bolster Ohio’s STEM pipeline, which is critical to our future economic competitiveness.”

The goals of the Strong Start in Science program are to increase student momentum toward degree completion, decrease student dropout from STEM or higher education, and increase the percentage of students who successfully complete key introductory science courses.

Source: Ohio Department of Education; Image by David from Pixabay

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