Enhancing access to STEM course work and programs is critical to preparing today's students for the jobs of tomorrow. Public schools could invest in programs that support STEM in grades 6-12, including career exploration activities, opportunities for technical skill attainment and partnerships with postsecondary education and training programs."Government not only needs to provide for an education for our young people, it needs to provide a quality education that gets them ready for the careers of this new century," Corbett said. "More money into STEM – Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics – addresses the needs of our growing economy but also, more importantly, the needs of every young person to have a bright future in a vibrant state." "STEM-related jobs are critical to the future of Pennsylvania's economy," Corbett added. "An investment in high-quality STEM course work and programs will provide Pennsylvania's students the opportunity to obtain the necessary academic credentials and skill set to be successful after high school. This significant investment affirms the Governor's commitment to ensuring a bright future is in reach for students." Two other areas of the Passport for Learning focus on elementary education and making sure Pennsylvania children start their educational path on solid footing in the subjects of reading and math. "Ready by 3" is an initiative the governor believes is critical to a solid academic foundation early in a student's education. The focus is to ensure that students are performing at grade level by third grade, based on the Pennsylvania Common Core Academic Standards. Schools could invest in quality kindergarten programs and enrichment programs that promote academic achievement in elementary reading and math. Recognizing that students learn differently and at their own pace, Corbett's proposal also includes an initiative for a self-paced, customized learning plan that would be based on a student's proficiency in academic standards. Schools could use grant funds to finance start-up costs to implement Competency-Based Education programs that move away from seat-time requirements to a model that is based on a student's mastery of specific course content.