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Briefs: CU studies why students leave STEM

Researchers from the University of Colorado Boulder next month will begin interviewing hundreds of undergraduates to ask why they’ve switched out of science, technology, engineering and math majors.

The five-year, $4.3 million project, being in partnership with the University of Wisconsin-Madison, expands on a study begun by two CU-Boulder researchers two decades ago and published in 1997 as a book, “Talking About Leaving: Why Undergraduates Leave the Sciences.”

“Part of the reason why we’re undertaking this study is that the rates of students switching out of STEM majors has remained so persistent,” said Anne-Barrie Hunter, co-director of Ethnography and Evaluation Research at CU-Boulder and principal investigator for the Colorado research team.

The study, which is being funded by the National Science Foundation and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, is the first to be run out of CU-Boulder’s new Center for STEM Learning.

For more information on the study visit

UNC’s diversity chief honored

Anita Fleming-Rife, special assistant to the president for Equity and Diversity at the University of Northern Colorado, will be presented the 2013 Distinguished Educator Award by The Education Center, a Denver-area nonprofit provider of training and programs supporting African-American education, at the center’s annual awards presentations March 1.

The award, considered by the center to be equivalent to an “educator hall of fame award,” honors an outstanding black educator who exemplifies the highest standard of excellence in the field of education and has dedicated his or her life to teaching, inspiring and motivating students, parents and other educators to become lifelong learners.

Past recipients of the award include Marie Greenwood, the first African-American woman to be tenured by Denver Public Schools, and who like Fleming-Rife, is a UNC alumna. Read more about Fleming-Rife’s career at

Legacy Foundation expands access to AP

The Colorado Legacy Foundation Tuesday announced the second group of schools to participate in the National Math and Science Advanced Placement Training and Incentive Program, which has a record of closing achievement gaps and increasing college readiness in program schools.

The initiative provides funding for extensive teacher training, student exam fees, classroom equipment and supplies, awards for those who excel, and extra time on task for students during Saturday study sessions.

The latest batch of 10 participating high schools are: Delta, Denver South, Greeley Central, Harrison, Northridge, Pueblo South, Rangeview, Sand Creek, Skyline and Thomas Jefferson.

Last year, Colorado Legacy Schools’ three schools represented just over 1 percent of the total number of schools in Colorado giving AP exams, yet they accounted for 19 percent of the growth in passing scores statewide.

Initial funding was provided by the U.S. Department of Defense and Exxon Mobile. These investments led to CLF receiving the Investing in Innovation (i3) Grant through the U.S. Department of Education.

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