Improving STEM Pathways in Louisiana Through Micro-credentials

Teacher with female pupils building robotic vehicle in science lesson, photo by Monkey Business/AdobeStock

Photo by Monkey Business/AdobeStock

The Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE) has been working with universities and non-profit organizations to institute pathways—sets of curricula and courses—that promote the study of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) in Louisiana’s middle and high schools. These pathways are meant to prepare students for advanced STEM studies in college and/or careers in STEM after graduating from high school.

The Louisiana STEM micro-credential project is a unique partnership between the LDOE, Louisiana State University (LSU), BloomBoard Inc., and RAND to develop and study a set of STEM micro-credentials. The micro-credentials are aligned to the content of the courses taught in the pathways and are intended to help teachers apply their STEM training to the classes they teach. The goal of the micro-credentials is to provide job-embedded professional development that will improve teacher instruction and student learning. The LDOE has received a grant from the U.S. Department of Education’s Education Innovation and Research Program to fund this work.

As part of this project, RAND is conducting an independent, innovative, and mixed-method study of the Louisiana STEM micro-credential project. The study includes both design-based implementation research to help inform development and deployment of the micro-credentials and a randomized controlled trial to assess the effect of the micro-credentials on instruction and student learning.

Study Goals

The study has four overarching goals:

  1. Develop, pilot, and refine a scalable, competency-based set of micro-credentials for Louisiana teachers providing instruction in advanced STEM subjects (e.g., pre-engineering, digital design);
  2. Implement the micro-credentials successfully with a randomly selected sample of teachers who progress through the credentials and receive certification;
  3. Improve teaching and learning through the implementation of micro-credentials; and
  4. Improve, spread, and sustain the micro-credential model in Louisiana.