PLTW Announces Complete K-12 Pathways Leading to High-Demand Career Fields

(March 23, 2015) – Today during the 2015 White House Science Fair, Project Lead The Way (PLTW) announced that it is the first organization to deliver comprehensive K -12 curricular pathways in computer science, biomedical science, and engineering.

Starting in 2015-16, districts and schools across the U.S. can offer students in grades K-12 project-based programs in each of these high-demand fields. PLTW programs prepare students for college and career by engaging them in critical thinking, collaboration, and problem solving through interdisciplinary STEM content. The K-12 pathway model provides standards-aligned, age-appropriate curriculum and assessment tools, as well as world-class teacher training and support resources.

“By strategically designing K-12 curricular pathways, PLTW has created an experience that engages students early and supports their learning as they develop interest, knowledge, and skills,” said Dr. Anne Jones, PLTW senior vice president and chief programs officer. “We cannot expect students to be excited about STEM subjects or excel in problem solving when they enter college or careers if they do not have prior experience applying STEM knowledge to solve problems.”

This announcement comes during the nation’s most visible and celebratory gathering of K-12 students involved in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). Hosted by President Barack Obama, the White House Science Fair is an opportunity for young scientists and engineers from across the country to showcase their innovative projects, designs, and experiments.

“There’s a reason so many young people love science,” the President said during the White House Science Fair. “It’s fun, it’s fascinating, and it helps us solve the mysteries of our world. I want more boys and girls across America to get the chance to study science, technology, engineering, and math – and maybe have the opportunity to go on to careers in those fields, too. So I’m glad so many organizations are stepping up to support STEM education. When we invest in our young people, we invest in our future.”

STEM is where jobs are today and where jobs will indeed be in the future. Studies project that by 2018, job openings for STEM fields will reach 2.8 million. Of these, approximately 1.4 million jobs will be for computer specialists. Like many other STEM fields, the current demand and supply are mismatched, as computer science career openings outpace students' skills and interest.

As such, PLTW is particularly excited about its computer science K-12 pathway.

“What will students do when they combine and apply what they learn through computer science and engineering, or computer science with love of art or music?” Jones said. “The possibilities are endless.”

It is important for a professional in any field to have exposure to computer science, and so PLTW has made it easy for schools to increase student access to computer science content. Schools with the PLTW Launch program in grades K-5 and the PLTW Gateway program for grades 6-8 can incorporate computer science lessons within their existing PLTW programs. At the high school level, in addition to the full computer science program, those schools with PLTW Engineering (PLTW’s most popular program) can simply add the Computer Science and Software Engineering course, which is aligned to the College Board’s AP Computer Science Principles course.

Approximately 6,500 schools are poised to take advantage of the new computer science content immediately in 2015-16.

For more information on PLTW’s K-12 pathways, visit https://www.pltw.org/our-programs.