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Suggested Citation:"Foundation for This Study." National Research Council. 2013. Monitoring Progress Toward Successful K-12 STEM Education: A Nation Advancing?. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13509.
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FOUNDATION FOR THIS STUDY

As part of national-level efforts to address the challenges facing K-12 education in STEM, a 2011 report from the National Research Council (NRC), Successful K-12 STEM Education: Identifying Effective Approaches in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, described three goals for U.S. K-12 education in the STEM disciplines (pp. 4-5):

GOAL 1. Expand the number of students who ultimately pursue advanced degrees and careers in STEM fields and broaden the participation of women and minorities in those fields. This goal focuses on the flow of students to STEM majors and careers as scientists and engineers.

GOAL 2. Expand the STEM-capable workforce and broaden the participation of women and minorities in that workforce. STEM-related careers—including medical assistants and computer and energy technicians—are an increasingly significant part of the U.S. economy (Carnevale, Smith, and Melton, 2011). Most of these careers require an associate degree or vocational certification with specialized STEM knowledge, rather than a bachelor’s degree.

GOAL 3. Increase STEM literacy for all students, including those who do not pursue STEM-related careers or additional study in the STEM disciplines. Another goal of education in STEM is to increase students’ knowledge and understanding of scientific and mathematical concepts and processes required for personal decision making, participation in civic and cultural affairs, and economic productivity (National Research Council, 1996).

The 2011 report also identified key elements that would be needed to support progress toward these goals: a coherent set of standards and curriculum, teachers with high capacity to teach in their discipline, a supportive assessment and accountability system, adequate instructional time, and students’ equal access to high-quality learning opportunities. At the school and district levels, the report recommends specific actions that education leaders and policy makers can take to ensure that these key elements are in place:

•     Consider a variety of STEM-focused schools and programs.

•     Devote adequate instructional time and resources for science, especially in grades K-5.

•     Ensure that curricula in the STEM disciplines are focused on the most important topics in each discipline, are rigorous, and are articulated over time as a sequence of topics and performances.

•     Enhance the capacity of K-12 teachers to teach in the STEM disciplines.

•     Provide instructional leaders with professional development to create school conditions that support student achievement.

Suggested Citation:"Foundation for This Study." National Research Council. 2013. Monitoring Progress Toward Successful K-12 STEM Education: A Nation Advancing?. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13509.
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image

FIGURE 1
Key elements for improvements and goals in Successful K-12 STEM Education (National Research Council, 2011).

As shown in Figure 1, to support these changes at the local level, the previous report (National Research Council, 2011) also recommended commensurate enhancements to the national and state infrastructures:

•     Elevate science to the same level of importance as reading and mathematics.

•     Develop effective systems of assessment for science.

•     Invest in supports for teachers in the STEM disciplines.

•     Support rigorous research to identify instructional practices that improve student outcomes.

Suggested Citation:"Foundation for This Study." National Research Council. 2013. Monitoring Progress Toward Successful K-12 STEM Education: A Nation Advancing?. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13509.
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Page6
Suggested Citation:"Foundation for This Study." National Research Council. 2013. Monitoring Progress Toward Successful K-12 STEM Education: A Nation Advancing?. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13509.
×
Page7
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Following a 2011 report by the National Research Council (NRC) on successful K-12 education in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), Congress asked the National Science Foundation to identify methods for tracking progress toward the report's recommendations. In response, the NRC convened the Committee on an Evaluation Framework for Successful K-12 STEM Education to take on this assignment. The committee developed 14 indicators linked to the 2011 report's recommendations. By providing a focused set of key indicators related to students' access to quality learning, educator's capacity, and policy and funding initiatives in STEM, the committee addresses the need for research and data that can be used to monitor progress in K-12 STEM education and make informed decisions about improving it.

The recommended indicators provide a framework for Congress and relevant deferral agencies to create and implement a national-level monitoring and reporting system that: assesses progress toward key improvements recommended by a previous National Research Council (2011) committee; measures student knowledge, interest, and participation in the STEM disciplines and STEM-related activities; tracks financial, human capital, and material investments in K-12 STEM education at the federal, state, and local levels; provides information about the capabilities of the STEM education workforce, including teachers and principals; and facilitates strategic planning for federal investments in STEM education and workforce development when used with labor force projections. All 14 indicators explained in this report are intended to form the core of this system. Monitoring Progress Toward Successful K-12 STEM Education: A Nation Advancing? summarizes the 14 indicators and tracks progress towards the initial report's recommendations.

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