The Mosley Page: Counselors, parent outreach and a dramatic improvement in STEM career preparation

During a gathering I attended with high school administrators from around Bay County in the fall of 2015, the counselors from Mosley High School’s MAPPS (Mosley Advanced Placement Program for Success) program – Sharon Hofer and Laura Evans – asked me if I would be willing to meet with MAPPS program parents during an evening session.  I was skeptical that such a meeting would do any good in improving the school’s enrollments in chemistry, physics and calculus – the courses necessary to prepare properly for college STEM majors.  But I was looking for ways to help and so I accepted the invitation despite my skepticism.

I couldn’t have been more wrong in my skepticism.

And Sharon and Laura couldn’t have been more right.

Since I first met with Mosley parents in March of 2016, enrollments in chemistry, physics and calculus have increased at mind-boggling rates.

To be clear, I am not the main character in the Mosley success story.  The main characters are Sharon and Laura, who have had the courage to speak with parents and students face-to-face about taking these courses, which induce worry in parents and students for several reasons.  I am a supporting actor, providing college-level credibility to back up their arguments.

The plots below show Mosley’s spring enrollments for 2016, 2017 and 2018 using numbers from the Florida Department of Education web site.  The FLDOE spreadsheets do not include dual enrollment courses or enrollment numbers for classes in which there are ten or fewer students – and that affects the plots.  For example, Mosley had five students in physics in the spring of 2016, and that shows up as zero in the plot.

Nevertheless, the dramatic increases in enrollments in all three subjects are clear.

Below the plots is a picture of Sharon and Laura – who happen to be sisters – from their Facebook page “Guidance News You Can Use”.

One more note:  Sharon and Laura are not the first to discover the power of parent outreach for improving preparation for college majors in STEM fields.  A study performed as part of the Wisconsin Study of Families and Work found that outreach to parents using brochures and a web site made a significant difference in the rate at which high school students took higher level math and science classes and also in the rate at which students ended up in STEM careers.  A recent Education Week piece by one of the study’s Principal Investigators describes the work in more detail.

The power point of my most recent presentation to MAPPS parents is linked here:

mosley24apr18b

chemistry

physics

calculus

smith sisters

Sharon Hofer (left) and Laura Evans

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