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FYI Number 90: August 28 , 2007

Immediate Feedback Needed on K-12 STEM Education Report

YOU MUST ACT NOW if you wish to submit your comments on a National Science Board (NSB) report addressing the U.S. system of pre-college through 12th grade (P-12) science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education. The Board has released a draft of its long-awaited action plan for improving the STEM education system, and will be accepting public comments THROUGH AUGUST 30.

The report runs approximately 20 pages (the entire document, with appendices, runs more than 100 pages) and is available at http://www.nsf.gov/nsb/edu_com/report.jsp. At that site you can also SUBMIT COMMENTS TO THE FOLLOWING EMAIL ADDRESS: NSB_STEMaction@nsf.gov.

The NSB finds that “within the current education system, U.S. students are not obtaining the STEM knowledge they need to succeed.” In its draft report, the NSB outlines two main challenges for the nation’s STEM education system: ensuring coherence throughout the system, and ensuring an adequate supply of well-prepared, effective STEM teachers. Many of its recommendations focus on ways to coordinate and improve coherence both horizontally, across states, and vertically, aligning the system from pre-kindergarten, through secondary school, to higher education and the workforce. It would achieve these objectives by creating several new entities, federal and non-federal; and urging the creation of national STEM content guidelines and metrics, and national STEM teacher certification standards.

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT:

The NSB recommends that: NSF spearhead the creation of a national roadmap for improving STEM education at the pre-kindergarten through college (P-16) levels; the Education Department establish a new Assistant Secretary of Education position for coordination within and liaison outside of the department; the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy create a standing STEM education committee within the cabinet-level National Science and Technology Council; and Congress legislate the chartering of an independent, non-federal National Council for STEM Education.

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR HORIZONTAL ALIGNMENT:

The NSB recommends that all stakeholders work to achieve horizontal alignment of the P-12 STEM education system across all states by: defining national STEM content guidelines and metrics; ensuring that assessments required under No Child Left Behind promote appropriate STEM learning; and providing a forum for the sharing and dissemination of best practices in STEM education.

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR VERTICAL ALIGNMENT:

The NSB recommends that stakeholders promote vertical alignment of the STEM education system across grades “from pre-K through the first years of higher education” by: improving linkages and alignment between high school and the needs of higher education and the workforce; and ensuring that states have effective STEM education-focused P-16 councils.

RECOMMENDATIONS ON STEM TEACHING WORKFORCE:

The NSB recommends the following strategies for ensuring that “students are taught by well-qualified and highly effective STEM teachers”: compensating STEM teachers at market rates; ensuring sufficient resources to educate future STEM teachers; increasing STEM teachers’ mobility by creating national STEM teacher certification standards; and preparing teachers to teach STEM content effectively.

The approximately 20-page report, “A National Action Plan for Addressing the Critical Needs of the U.S. Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Education System,” is available at http://www.nsf.gov/nsb/edu_com/report.jsp. COMMENTS SHOULD BE SUBMITTED TO NSB_STEMaction@nsf.gov.

Audrey T. Leath
Media and Government Relations Division
American Institute of Physics
fyi@aip.org
301-209-3094

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