Date of Award

Spring 5-13-2017

Degree Type


Degree Name

EdD Education Leadership, Management and Policy


Education Leadership, Management and Policy


Luke Stedrak, Ed.D

Committee Member

Christopher Tienken, Ed.D

Committee Member

Michael D. Kuchar, Ph.D


STEM education, state policy analysis, content analysis, Race to the Top, career and technical education, gifted education, economic development


For practitioners and policy makers across the nation, STEM education has a vague definition. This study looks at how all 50 states define STEM education in policy, using four models: (a) Disciplinary STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics); (b) Integrated STEM focusing on combining two or more disciplines to produce critical thinking, real world application, and creative problem solving; (c) the Disciplinary and Integrated STEM model that acknowledges both to summarize programs at the state policy level; (d) the model with no definition of STEM education. The final results include 10 percent of states use the first model, 42 percent use an Integrated definition, 30 percent use both Integrated and Disciplinary terminology, while 18 percent have no definition in policy documents. Content analysis was used to determine what each state used while looking at documents such as bills, statutes, regulations, executive orders, strategic plans, state-sponsored websites, and press releases. Secondary content analysis was used to determine states’ goals and aspirations with STEM education at the policy level. The following include the overall results of the goals and aspirations of the states: 78 percent of the states related STEM education to workforce or economic development, 68 percent suggested STEM education is for all students and not just special populations, 56 percent wanted to improved minority participation in STEM fields, 30 percent used Career and Technical Education programming as the primary STEM source of education delivery, 18 percent of the states wanted to use after school programming for STEM Education, and 16 percent wanted to improve STEM education in the state by offering more advanced coursework like Advanced Placement courses in the high schools. The study also provides an overview of the federal Race to the Top grant program and its STEM competitive initiative (2010).