- Opening last week, the STEM3 Academy in Los Angeles is focusing its approach on STEM instruction for students with learning disabilities.
- Students attend counseling and speech pathology alongside courses in STEM subjects like robotics and computer science.
- The school is private, but most students have their tuition covered by their home district if the school is deemed a good fit for their Individualized Education Program.
The school aims to fill a growing gap. STEM fields are booming, with an expected 8.6 million STEM-related jobs needing to be filled over the next three years. But K-12 and higher education haven’t caught up, leaving a gap in the number of graduates able to fill those positions.
For disabled students, that can offer an unexpected opportunity. Though many autistic students struggle to find work after graduation, they appear to succeed more often in STEM fields. A third of college students on the autism spectrum selected STEM majors.
STEM3 plans to further harness that potential by ensuring the learning space and style of the school are suited to students with learning difficulties. The school is hiring teachers with expertise in special education and focusing on project-based, hands-on instruction.
“Rather than having students be passive learners, we want them to be engaged,” Ellis Crasnow, the school’s principal, told eSchool News. “It also suits kids with special needs who tend to do better if the experience is multimodal, kinesthetic, aural. They do well if the learning is coming from a variety of directions.”