STEM Learning Exchanges

What are STEM LEs?

Science, Technology, Engineering & Math (STEM) Learning Exchanges have been formed for selected high-demand career clusters/industries to improve the coordination and delivery of resources, work-based learning opportunities, career guidance, and partnerships that support local STEM programs.  

In Illinois, Learning Exchanges were formed for:

Learning Exchanges provide a new infrastructure by voluntary association that helps coordinate investments at a statewide level to better connect and serve local programs in a similar career cluster while also tracking local and statewide performance. 

Each sector-based Learning Exchange is governed by a consortium of education, business, and community partners, with a specific entity serving as a fiscal agent to receive public investment. Learning Exchanges are required to have a state-approved strategic plan and have a state designation, but they operate as independent, voluntary public-private networks using the Illinois Pathways Initiative Governance Model. Compare the traditional Historic Funding Model approach to the Systemic Funding Model approach advanced by the Illinois Pathways Initiative.

Nine Functions of Learning Exchanges

Nine functions of Learning Exchanges are identified below:

  1. Provide e-learning curriculum resources, including online courses, assessment and feedback systems, reference materials, databases, and software tools.
  2. Expand access to classroom and laboratory space, equipment, and related educational resources necessary to support programs of study through regional partnerships and other strategies.
  3. Support student organizations and their major activities, including conferences, internships and professional networking experiences, competitions, and community projects that build leadership, communication, and interpersonal skills and provide professional and peer support networks.
  4. Provide internships and other work-based learning opportunities that connect students with adult mentors.
  5. Sponsor challenges and project management resources for students to work in collaborative teams addressing real-world interdisciplinary problems.
  6. Provide professional development resources for teachers and school administrators integrated and aligned across middle school, high school, and community college instruction, including STEM externships, support for web-based networks, and integrated professional development for academic and CTE instructors.
  7. Provide career development and outreach resources to expand awareness of STEM-related programs and careers to K-12 students.
  8. Provide tools and resources to assist students and schools with implementing personalized education plans and transitions to post-secondary academic and training programs, including establishing course articulation and dual credit opportunities.
  9. Review the performance of STEM Programs of Study through assessments and work with school partners to continuously improve performance.

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