The President’s request for FY 2014 significantly restructures federal spending in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education. Funding for STEM education has previously come from multiple science mission agencies but under the President’s FY 2014 proposal, it will be consolidated and restructured and will be based out of three agencies: the Department of Education (ED), National Science Foundation (NSF), and the Smithsonian Institution.
The proposal decreases the total number of federal STEM programs from 226 to 112. The elimination or reorganization of 114 programs “will substantially decrease the fragmentation of STEM programs across the Federal government, allowing for easier coordination and improving opportunities for rigorous evaluation of the remaining programs. The reorganization also includes increasing capacity at critical agencies,” according to a White House Office of Science and Technology Policy statement. The federal science agencies were involved in discussions about the consolidation process and determination of which programs to consolidate or cut was made at the agency level.
This proposal attempts to create a “cohesive national STEM education strategy” focused on priorities by level of education: K-12 instruction, undergraduate education, graduate fellowships, and informal education. The decrease in the number of programs is designed to: reorient STEM policy to “meet the needs of those delivering STEM education: school districts, states, and colleges and universities;” reduce the fragmentation of the federal STEM programs and redirect resources around aligned priorities, “enable rigorous evaluation and evidence-building strategies for Federal STEM education programs;” increase the impact of graduate education programs, and provide resources for a STEM Master Teacher Corps.
The FY 2014 budget request includes $3.1 billion for STEM education programs. This request is an increase of $195 million or 6.7% over the FY 2012 enacted level.
The request includes focused investments in several areas:
Teacher recruitment, preparation and support: the FY 2014 budget request includes $80 million to support the preparation of 100,000 STEM teachers and $35 million to launch a pilot STEM Master Teacher Corps.
STEM-focused high schools and school districts: the FY 2014 budget request includes $150 million to create new STEM Innovation Networks, aimed at forming partnerships between school districts and local, regional, and national STEM resources. The FY 2014 request also includes $300 million to support partnerships between high schools and colleges, employers, and outside stakeholders.
Undergraduate STEM education: the FY 2014 request for the National Science Foundation includes $123.1 million for the new Catalyzing Advances in Undergraduate STEM Education (CAUSE) grant program focused on improving retention of undergraduate STEM students and improve STEM teaching and learning at the undergraduate level.
Advanced Research Projects Agency for Education (ARPA-ED): the FY 2014 request includes $65 million for this initiative. The creation of this agency was first proposed in the President’s FY 2012 request and would be modeled after similar programs at the Department of Defense and Department of Energy. It would support developments in educational technology, learning systems, support systems for educators and other education tools. ARPA-ED was initially funded from the Fund for the Improvement of Education and the Wireless Innovation Fund within the Department of Education.
Federal STEM Education Funding
Department of Education: the FY 2014 request is $814 million which is an increase of $285 million or 53.9 percent over the $529 million FY 2012 enacted level.
National Science Foundation: the FY 2014 request is $1,243 million which is an increase of $89 million or 7.7 percent over the $1,154 million FY 2012 enacted level.
Smithsonian Institution: the FY 2014 request included $25 million. This is the first year the Smithsonian Institution budget has had funding for STEM education programs.
Other federal agencies saw significant reductions in federal STEM education program funding. These include the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Environmental Protection Agency, and the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Energy, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Interior, and Transportation. The funding for the remaining 112 federal STEM education programs remained with the agencies in charge of each of those respective programs.
The specific details about the role of the Smithsonian in the federal STEM education program landscape are still being finalized. Under this proposed structure, the federal science agencies will continue to provide subject area expertise and will coordinate with the Department of Education, National Science Foundation and Smithsonian Institution. K-12 programs will be coordinated by the Department of Education, undergraduate and graduate programs will be coordinated by the National Science Foundation and informal education and community outreach programs by the Smithsonian Institution. One of the roles of the Smithsonian Institution will likely be to combine STEM resources from each of the science mission agencies in a centralized location. The Smithsonian Institution will then work to create education materials aligned to science education standards, on-line resources, and strategies to disseminate STEM resources to the education community and to the public.
The National Science Foundation STEM Education Budget
The NSF has STEM education programs in multiple directorates. Funding by education level is as follows:
K-12 Programs: the FY 2014 budget request is $267.1 million which is an increase of $7.4 million or 2.9 percent over the $259.6 million FY 2012 enacted level.
Undergraduate Programs: the FY 2014 budget request is $495.3 million which is an increase of $23.9 million or 5.1 percent over the $471.4 million FY 2012 enacted level.
Graduate and Professional Programs: the FY 2014 budget request is $453.2 million which is an increase of $79.5 million or 21.0 percent over the $373.6 million FY 2012 enacted level. This significant increase is due to the Administration’s interest in preparing US scientists and engineers by enhancing NSF’s graduate fellowship program. This request provides $325 million to expand and enhance NSF’s Graduate Research Fellowship program by creating a new National Graduate Research Fellowship.
Outreach and Informal Education Programs: the FY 2014 budget request is $53.5 million which is a decrease of $17.3 million or 24.4 percent over the $70.8 million FY 2012 enacted level. This significant decrease is offset by the FY 2014 budget request for the Smithsonian Institution which is expected to focus on outreach and informal education programs.
The primary division of NSF that is responsible for supporting STEM education is the
Directorate for Education Resources (EHR): the FY 2014 budget request is $880.3 million which is a $51.3 million or 6.2 percent increase over the $829.0 million FY 2012 enacted level.
The divisions of EHR are as follows:
Division of Research on Learning in Formal and Informal Settings (DRL): the FY 2014 budget request is $277.9 million which is a $5.4 million or 2.0 percent increase over the $272.4 million FY 2012 enacted level.
Division of Graduate Education (DGE): the FY 2014 budget request is $245.2 million which is a $8.9 million or 3.7 percent increase over the $236.3 million FY 2012 enacted level.
Division of Human Resource Development (HRD): the FY 2014 budget request is $130.3 million which is a $0.7 million or 0.5 percent increase over the $129.6 million FY 2012 enacted level.
Division of Undergraduate Education (DUE): the FY 2014 budget request is $227.0 million which is a $36.3 million or 19.1 percent increase over the $190.7 million FY 2012 enacted level.
The Department of Education STEM Education Budget
The FY 2014 budget request for the Department of Education places a significant emphasis on STEM, college and career readiness, teacher training, and preschool education. Under the FY 2014 budget proposal the Department of Education would focus its role on developing STEM Innovation Networks, supporting a STEM Master Teacher Corps and reforming STEM teaching and learning.
Some of the highlighted STEM-related programs within the Department of Education include:
STEM Innovation Networks
The FY 2014 request includes $150 million for this competitive grant program which would award grants to school districts, colleges, and regional partners to improve STEM education at the local level. This could include focusing on increasing student engagement and improving teacher professional development.
High School Redesign Grants
The FY 2014 request includes $300 million for High School Redesign Grants. These are designed to provide students with practical career related experiences and college credit.
Career and Technical Education Program
The FY 2014 budget request includes $1.1 billion for this program aimed at redesigning the alignment between high school curriculum with postsecondary opportunities and workforce demands.
Race to the Top
The FY 2014 budget request includes $1 billion for Race to the Top, a competitive grant program aimed at identifying and adopting effective policies and practices. The budget would also include $1 billion in funding for a higher education race to the top competition providing competitive grants to states who commit to controlling the cost of tuition.
Effective Teaching and Learning: STEM
The FY 2014 budget request includes $149.7 million for the Effective Teaching and Learning STEM program. This program is aimed at implementing strategies to promote high-quality STEM instruction.
Investing in Innovation (i3)
The FY 2014 budget request includes $215 million for the i3 program which focuses on evaluating and scaling-up evidence-based STEM education resources. This funding will also support ARPA-ED.