That represents a 60-percent increase in the number of schools and a 22-percent increase in the number of states in which the curriculum will be taught compared to one year ago, when 200 schools in 36 states provided it for 8,000 students.
“We are thrilled with the excitement surrounding aviation STEM programs and with the rapid expansion of the AOPA Foundation You Can Fly High School Aviation STEM Curriculum,” said AOPA Foundation You Can Fly Executive Director Elizabeth Tennyson. “Teachers love the curriculum, students love the curriculum, and they are learning valuable lessons to help them prepare for careers in the aviation industry.”
The science, technology, engineering, and math curriculum features two pathways, pilot and drone. Once students have completed the curriculum, they have learned the principles necessary to pass FAA knowledge tests. The curriculum is funded by donations to the AOPA Foundation and is provided free to schools. Because of this, AOPA is reaching students from populations that are underrepresented in aviation. In the 2020-2021 school year, teachers and students from mid-high and high-poverty schools accounted for 45 percent and 55 percent of participants, respectively. In addition, 20 percent of the students were female, and 45 percent of the students were people of color.
“The program’s leadership in providing academic rigor and career preparation is evident in its impact at the state and national levels,” said Tennyson.
In addition to receiving national accreditation, the curriculum is also backed by state education departments, helping to fuel its growth. Oklahoma approved the curriculum statewide for its career technical education (CTE) aviation career pathways, while Kansas career and technical education developers worked with the You Can Fly team to create a statewide CTE pilot pathway. The curriculum also can count as college credit at Florida’s Polk State College and Oregon’s Portland Community College as well as many other colleges and universities across the country.
AOPA trains and mentors educators who enroll to teach the curriculum through professional development workshops, ongoing teacher support, and peer interactions. Those who want to offer the program in the 2022-2023 school year can look forward to the availability of seven full-year high school courses in the two pathways.