Report offers snapshot of Arizona high school bioscience programs

April 4, 2007

By hammersmith

The Flinn Foundation, in conjunction with Salt River Project, has issued “Building the Bioscience Pipeline,” a 28-page “snapshot” of Arizona high school bioscience offerings. The programs profiled in the report represent some of the most promising models for the advancement of high school bioscience education.

“To remain competitive in a global economy, Arizona’s high school math and science preparation must improve,” said Saundra E. Johnson, executive vice president at the Flinn Foundation. “The biosciences are an important focus of Arizona’s future workforce, and Arizona’s high school bioscience programs are a key building block in developing that workforce.”

“Our survey found that there is great interest among educators but relatively few established programs, little funding, and a need for greater statewide coordination.”

In the fall of 2006, Mighty Interactive, a Tempe-based Internet consulting firm, and ASSET (Arizona School Services through Educational Technology) polled 327 public and private high schools. Of the 221 schools that responded, 90 stated they had some type of bioscience program in place. Of these 90, 64 percent said their program had been in place for five or more years and 79 percent said that their program’s primary focus was to prepare students for college.

Darrell Sheppard, senior community outreach representative at SRP and a “loaned executive” to the Flinn Foundation, conducted personal, in-depth interviews with selected individuals to gather more detailed information on successful programs that could be duplicated at other schools. Sheppard also authored the final report.

According to L.J. “Chip” U’Ren, associate general manager at SRP, “Providing assistance in developing this report was a natural progression of our existing involvement with other bioscience endeavors, such as the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen), University of Arizona College of Medicine in downtown Phoenix, the Maricopa Community Colleges Center for Workforce Development, and the 87th Arizona Town Hall on “‘Maximizing Arizona’s Opportunities in the Biosciences and Biotechnology.'”

Among the report’s recommendations to improve current programs and create new programs are:

  • Form a collaboration of the major universities, community colleges, and high schools to produce streamlined 2+2+2 programs that provide learning experiences for high school students leading to faster entry into the workplace.
  • Resolve barriers between academically focused bioscience programs and those delivered through Career and Technical Education (CTE) models.
  • Propose that universities seeking educational grants include systemic, effective, and sustained outreach to high school bioscience programs.
  • Create a systemic outreach program from the state’s commercial bioscience industry.
  • Develop, fund, and sustain training courses for science teachers that produce confident, competent practitioners trained in state-of-the art applications.

To read the full press release, click here.

An online version of the report is available at For printed copies, send an e-mail to