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SVEF, National Semiconductor Work to Boost 9th Grade Science Skills

$350K Grant Bolsters Biology Program in East SJ Schools

Jun 20, 2011

June 20, 2011 - Paving the way for more students to get into college, the Silicon Valley Education Foundation (SVEF) and National Semiconductor Foundation are partnering to launch a first-of-its-kind summer science program for academically underprepared ninth graders to boost their science skills.

Stepping Up To Science (STEPS) is being offered to 240 students and 40 teachers in the East Side Union High School District from June 14 to July 14. The 4-week STEPS program, which is equivalent to approximately one semester of study in biology, is funded by a $350,000 Power of Education grant from the National Semiconductor Foundation, and helps fill the void caused by summer school cutbacks.

"Preparing youth in the sciences is a core value for us at National," said Don Macleod, chief executive officer of National Semiconductor. "Over the past 14 years, we have invested $6 million in teacher training and materials in technology, science and math. Our primary goal is to provide teachers with the knowledge and tools to teach in a way that gets kids excited about science and math so they may excel in these subjects."

STEPS is a unique student intervention and teacher development program that will eventually provide all district-wide science educators with practical and engaging instructional tools. The free program targets youth in underserved schools who are below grade level in science testing. The curriculum was developed with a hands-on, experimental approach in mind. Participants include James Lick, Andrew Hill, Overfelt and Yerba Buena High Schools. 

"In the East Side Union High School District - the second largest in the state - 4,200 ninth graders are not in a science course that counts for college," said Muhammed Chaudhry, president and chief executive officer of the Silicon Valley Education Foundation. "Without help from this program, these students may not end up on a path to college. We need to prepare kids to become our future scientists, engineers and leaders."
The STEPS program was developed to bolster the East Side Union High School District’s recent adoption of "A to G" requirements, which are the course standards needed for students to qualify for California’s University of California and California State University colleges.

"The partnership with the Silicon Valley Education Foundation in implementing the STEPS program will help our students meet the higher A-G standards adopted by our Board last December," said East Side Union High School Superintendant Dan Moser. "We appreciate the support of SVEF, as well as National Semiconductor, which is providing funds to support the program." 

In 2010, 66% of students in the East Side Union High School District were either not enrolled in a college-prep lab science course, or not enrolled in science at all, reducing their chances to get on a college path.

California ranks 49th nationally in science, an embarrassing statistic given that the state is the eighth largest economy in the world. In partnership with SVEF and the National Semiconductor Foundation, the East Side Union High School District expects to see at least 75% of students enrolled in STEPS over the next three years to successfully move into ninth grade biology.

Also supporting this year’s STEPS program are SummerHill Homes, the Westly Foundation, US Bancorp, Medtronic, JDS Uniphase and the Robert Half and Leo Shortino Foundations.  
The $350,000 grant is a part of a larger $1.2 million worldwide Power of Education initiative that invests in programs that not only increase teacher’s content knowledge in science and math, but also focus on inquiry-based methods, hands-on experience and the connection of literacy in teaching science and math. In the field of education, which represents more than 50% of all of National Semiconductor Foundation’s giving, the focus has always been on teachers - specifically providing them with the training, tools and support to inspire and educate students in science and math. The STEPS program advances this initiative.
Reporters are welcome to visit our classrooms. Please contact Connie Skipitares at 408.205.8540 or Krista Nilsen at 408.721.5558 to arrange a visit.

About SVEF:
Silicon Valley Education Foundation focuses on raising student performance in the critical areas of math and science across Santa Clara County’s 32 school districts. Our goal is to be the leading advocate for public education in our region. We are known for our focus on achieving results, partnering, and emphasizing creativity and innovation. For more information about SVEF programs, visit www.svefoundation.org

About National Semiconductor:
National Semiconductor is a leader in power management technology. Known for its easy-to-use analog integrated circuits and world-class supply chain, National’s high-performance analog products enable its customers’ systems to be more energy efficient. Headquartered in Santa Clara, Calif., National reported sales of $1.52 billion for fiscal 2011. Additional information is available at www.national.com.

National Semiconductor Foundation is a corporate-advised fund at the Silicon Valley Community Foundation.