This year we also received the results of our longitudinal evaluation of MESA's impact on students. With the support of Meyer Memorial Trust and the Lemelson Foundation, researchers at Education Northwest examined Oregon MESA program’s impact over 10 years. You can read the full impact report and see some of the highlights below.
Boosting Academic Success
The MESA experience helps students develop greater focus and purpose, leading directly to higher achievement in high school and beyond. MESA students had higher grades in science and mathematics classes than their peers — and they are 3.13 times more likely to graduate from high school in four years than those who don’t participate in MESA.
Making Learning Connections
In student surveys, 90% of students reported that MESA was a place where they felt they belonged. Overwhelmingly, they believed MESA is fun (96%) and that their confidence in using invention skills — problem solving, working on a team, product development — had improved (98%). Looking ahead to their futures, 92% affirmed that MESA taught them about careers in STEM.
Erasing the Poverty Deficit
According to the impact report, low-income students come to school at a graduation likelihood deficit of approximately 20% versus their non-low income peers. Participation in MESA has approximately the same magnitude of positive effect on these students, effectively overcoming the poverty-related deficit.
We believe underrepresented students deserve high-quality STEM education
Students historically underrepresented in STEM must have equitable engagement in high-quality STEM, CTE, and career-connected learning opportunities. Looking at the data around who participates in STEM, CTE and career-connected learning, there are clear inequities. Making programs available to all students is not the same as making them accessible and inclusive. If addressing opportunity gaps is a priority, programs should be accountable for equitable engagement.
The foundation of Oregon MESA is our school-based invention education program — the only adaptable, prototype-driven math, engineering, and science program for traditionally underrepresented students that takes an ecosystems approach to education. In 2020, 79.3% out of 632 MESA students served identified as underrepresented.
We believe in supporting teachers in integrating STEM & equity into daily practice
All students deserve to see themselves reflected in STEM opportunities and capable of success in STEM learning. In order for students underrepresented in STEM to experience that kind of inclusivity, teachers need to know how to integrate culturally responsive practices into their classrooms.
In 2020, we held four Invention Institutes, offering over 26 hours of professional development for our teachers in the Portland Public, Salem-Keizer, Oregon City, North Clackamas, Estacada, Centennial, Parkrose, Gresham-Barlow, David Douglas, Forest Grove, Beaverton, and Hillsboro School Districts. Our newest curriculum places a focus on liberatory mindsets, accommodates emerging bilingual students, and encourages everyone to take a more critical lens on their biases.
We believe in well-rounded education
The educational experience does not start and end with the school day. Students must have an access to extended learning opportunities to ensure that their education is well-rounded. For that reason Oregon MESA is committed to provide students with project-based learning to increase high quality instruction time.
To achieve this, in 2020 we launched 32 MESA Chapters in 30 schools, providing a total of 5 career trips and 2 college visits. After the transition to virtual learning, we continued our commitment to prevent the educational opportunity gaps from widening, engaging our students and families through a bilingual bi-weekly family newsletter with 3 STEM activities, 2 mentor videos, 2 professional development videos, community resources, and announcements of other virtual programs MESA had to offer.
We believe in eliminating barriers to participation
Students deserve to have an equitable access to out of school programming. This includes providing services for all kinds of access needs including transportation, food, and childcare that ensure their ability to engage in out of school programs.
Oregon MESA is committed to meeting the accessibility needs of our students and families. In 2020 we accomplished this by making more than 400 phone calls to our students' families to better understand their individual needs, especially during the transition to online learning.