Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Preparing the Next Generation of STEM Innovators

The development of the nation's human capital through our education system is an essential building block for future innovation. Currently, the abilities of far too many of America's young men and women go unrecognized and underdeveloped, and, thus, these individuals may fail to reach their full potential. This represents a loss for both the individual and society. There are talented students with enormous potential from every demographic and from every part of our country who, with hard work and the proper educational opportunities, will form the next generation of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) innovators.
The purpose of the STEM Innovators project was to explore ways that the country can foster the development of our next generation of leading STEM professionals, entrepreneurs, and inventors, who will form the future vanguard of discovery in science and technology. The Board's rationale for this project was twofold:
  1. The nation's economic prosperity, security, and quality of life depends on the identification and development of our next generation of STEM innovators; and,
  2. Every student in America should be given the opportunity to reach his or her full potential.
To address the issue, the Board proposes three keystone recommendations. Contained within each keystone recommendation are multiple specific policy actions for NSF, the federal government, and/or the nation. Additionally, the Board proposes a research agenda for each keystone recommendation. These research findings will inform policy-making in critical areas, such as how to nurture early interest in STEM, best practices for developing STEM related abilities, and means for improving teaching effectiveness.
First, provide opportunities for excellence. We must offer coordinated, proactive, sustained formal and informal interventions to develop students' potential. Students should learn at a pace and depth commensurate with their talents and interests and in a fashion that elicits engagement, intellectual curiosity, and creative problem solving--essential skills for future innovation.
Second, cast a wide net to identify and develop all types of talents in all demographics of students. Current assessments frequently fail to identify some students with the highest potential or students with certain types of abilities. To this end, we must develop and implement appropriate talent assessments at multiple grade levels and train educators to recognize potential, particularly among those individuals who have not been given adequate opportunities to transform their potential into academic achievement, such as students from lower-income backgrounds and minorities traditionally underrepresented in STEM fields.
Third, foster a supportive ecosystem that nurtures and celebrates excellence and innovative thinking. Parents/guardians, education professionals, peers, and students themselves must work together to create a culture that expects excellence, encourages innovations, and rewards success.
The Board believes that the recommendations set forth in this report will help ensure a legacy of continued prosperity and engender a renewed aspiration towards equity and excellence in U.S. STEM education.
The full report is available for download at the NSB Web site.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Mathematics and Science Learning and School Reform: Mobilizing for a Unified Agenda - Carnegie-IAS Commission

Mathematics and Science Learning and School Reform: Mobilizing for a Unified Agenda -  Carnegie-IAS Commission 


The Carnegie-IAS Commission endorses a unified agenda involving fundamental school system reform and a rigorous overhaul of mathematics and science education. Our analysis suggests that those efforts are mutually dependent—that math and science learning will rise only if schools and instruction change profoundly, but also that schools are much more likely to improve if they tap the motivating power of science and math learning. Within that framework, the Commission’s findings are consistent with those of several influential recent reports:

The Economic Impact of the Achievement Gap in America’s Schools. 2009. McKinsey & Company.

  • Highlights the significant and negative correlation between educational achievement gaps and national GDP. The data presented in this report underscore the dual national needs—and supports Commission recommendations—to close achievement gaps and raise achievement for all students to meet and exceed international benchmarks.

Benchmarking for Success. 2008. National Governors Association, Council of Chief State School Officers, Achieve.

  • Addresses challenges and promising solutions to combat the international achievement gap. Findings in support of common and rigorous standards, better assessments, and improved human capital management with a focus on recruiting, training, and retaining the best teachers are particularly aligned with the Commission’s recommendations.

Fostering Learning in a Networked World. 2008. National Science Foundation Task Force on Cyberlearning.

  • Analyzes the challenges of preparing students with 21st century levels of understanding of technology and science. its support for improved professional development for teachers around the use of technology, and for increased and strategic deployment of technology and instructional tools in the classroom, are particularly coherent with the Commission’s recommendations.

Foundations for Success. 2008. National Mathematics Advisory Panel.

  • Addresses the challenges of math achievement in the united States and highlights inter- national achievement gaps in this area. its support for improved and targeted recruitment of teachers and for the implementation of fewer, clearer, higher standards align with the Commission’s recommendations.

Out of Many, One. 2008. Achieve, Inc.

  • Presents an analysis of the college- and career-ready standards for english and mathematics in a selection of states. The findings, in alignment with Commission recommendations, recognize that “there is fundamental knowledge in english and mathematics that all graduates must know to succeed and that is not bound by state lines” and thus support common, rigorous, college- and career-ready standards for all students.

Building a STEM Agenda. 2007. National Governors Association.

  • Highlights the challenges of supporting American global competitiveness and innovation, particularly in light of the fact that U.S. 12th and 8th grade students score below the OECD average on tests of math and science. Its recommendations for a multi-pronged strategy to spur improvement—including common, rigorous, and internationally benchmarked standards and aligned assessments; improved management of human capital with attention to STEM capacity; and improved accountability systems to track achievement— align with the Commission’s recommendations.

Rigor at Risk. 2007. ACT.

  • Highlights the negative impact of multiple and often low standards across high school core courses and the resulting depression of college readiness among far too many graduates. its support for increased alignment between high school and college-level standards as a necessary component for raising achievement is coherent with the Commission’s recommendations in this area.

Taking Science to School. 2007. National Research Council.

  • Highlights the need to bring a much broader cohort of students to much higher levels of achievement in science. its support for common and rigorous standards and aligned assessments and for targeted professional development in science teaching cohere with the Commission’s focus on bringing all students to much higher levels of science knowledge and understanding and producing a STEM-literate citizenry.

Tough Choices or Tough Times. 2006. National Center on Education and the Economy.

  • Considers the need to build student knowledge and skills to meet the needs of the 21st century global labor market. its view that these skills are new, increasingly cognitive, and analytic and support for innovations in recruitment of teachers and in design and delivery of schools cohere with the Commission’s recommendations in these areas.

Rising Above the Gathering Storm. 2005. National Research Council.

  • Emphasizes the need to significantly improve science and technology capacity to maintain and increase national innovation. its recommendations in support of dramatic increases in recruitment (and corresponding incentives) of science and math teachers, enlarging the STEM pipeline across high school and college, and increasing participation and retention in higher education STEM fields are all coherent with the Commission’s recommendations.

Engaging Schools: Fostering High School Students’ Motivation to Learn. 2004. National Research Council.

  • Stresses the importance of organizing secondary schools to promote student engagement, especially for urban students. Its emphasis on structuring all aspects of school—including curriculum, instruction, and school organization—to engage students cognitively and emotionally is consistent with the Commission’s recommendations for school design.

Adding It Up. 2001. National Research Council.

  • Addresses the need to bring many more students to much higher levels of math achievement. its recommendations regarding improved, capacity-driven standards and corresponding instructional and curricular reforms support the Commission’s recommendations in these areas.

The Opportunity Equation: Transforming Mathematics and Science Education for Citizenship and the Global Economy;Report of the Carnegie-IAS Commission on Mathematics and Science Education, June 2009

Report of the Carnegie-IAS Commission on Mathematics and Science Education, June 2009

Opportunity Equation Report

The world has shifted dramatically—and an equally dramatic shift is needed in education. The Opportunity Equation: Transforming Mathematics and Science Education for Citizenship and the Global Economy report states that we must raise the bar in education and rethink the design of school if we want excellent mathematics and science learning for all America students. We need to “do school differently” in ways that raise expectations and place math and science at the center.
Released in 2009 and endorsed by more than 65 organizations, the report provides a hopeful view of the future of K-12 education in the U.S. It also provides a roadmap for this vision through recommendations for key stakeholders including the federal government, governors and states, school districts, nonprofit organizations, colleges and universities, businesses, unions, philanthropy, and others.
The report was released by the Carnegie-IAS Commission on Mathematics and Science Education. The Commission was formed to address the concern that the U.S. education systems are not providing students with an adequate education in science, mathematics, engineering, and technology—the so-called STEM fields.

Teaching by Choice: Community Colleges Expand K-12 STEM Pathways and Practices (American Association of Community Colleges, National Science Foundation)

Teaching by Choice: Community Colleges Expand K-12 STEM Pathways and Practices
(information provided by http://www.stem.project.mnscu.edu/index.asp?Type=B_DIR&SEC={804DB56E-FB62-435D-95DC-5692960AF255}&DE={B3D590A2-EB9F-4E94-A820-1DD91B6E272E}
Goal:  "This report addresses key issues for recruiting and retaining K-12 mathematics and science teachers, for designing and delivering programs that will place well-prepared instructors in the nations' K-12 classrooms, and for developing appropriate assessment and evaluation strategies for community college post-baccalaureate teacher education and professional development programs."  [pg. 3]
Community College Post-Baccalaureate Teacher Education Programs:  Recommendations are given for increasing diverse applicant pools, program design and delivery, and assessment and improvement of post-baccalaureate programs.
Community College Professional Development Programs in K-12 STEM Education:  Recommendations are given to encourage participation in K-12 STEM professional development programs at community colleges, for program design and delivery, and for assessment and improvement of professional development programs.
Conclusion:  The report calls for community colleges to provide STEM experiences for future and current K-12 teachers and to partner with schools, four-year colleges and universities and STEM businesses to share resources.
Patton, Madeline.  2008.  Teaching by Choice:  Community Colleges Expand K-12 STEM Pathways and Practices.  Ed. Lynn Barnett and Faith San Felice.  Washington, DC:  American Association of Community Colleges

Carnegie Foundaton - Strenthening Pre-Collegiate Education in Community Colleges

Strengthening Pre-Collegiate Education in Community Colleges (SPECC) - http://www.carnegiefoundation.org/previous-work/undergraduate-education

A multi-site action-research project (2007-2009), SPECC focused on teaching and learning in pre-collegiate mathematics and English language arts at 11 California community colleges. It was a joint project with The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.

Major Publications

A set of reports drawn from the work on the 11 participating campuses were produced over the final year and a half of the project by different members of the Carnegie team.
Basic Skills for Complex Lives: Designs for Learning in the Community College
Listening to Students About Learning
By Andrea Conklin Bueschel

The Promise of Faculty Inquiry for Teaching and Learning Basic Skills
By Mary Taylor Huber

Faculty Inquiry in Action: Guidelines for Working Together to Improve Student Learning
Strengthening Pre-collegiate Education in Community Colleges: Project Summary and Recommendations

Change and Sustain/Ability: A Program Director’s Reflections on Institutional Learning
By Rose Asera

STEM Reports of Interest

In a world where advanced knowledge is widespread and low-cost labor is readily available, U.S. advantages in the marketplace and in science and technology have begun to erode. A comprehensive and coordinated federal effort is urgently needed to bolster U.S. competitiveness and pre-eminence in these areas. This congressionally requested report by a pre-eminent committee makes four recommendations along with 20 implementation actions that federal policy-makers should take to create high-quality jobs and focus new science and technology efforts on meeting the nation's needs, especially in the area of clean, affordable energy:

1) Increase America's talent pool by vastly improving K-12 mathematics and science education;
2) Sustain and strengthen the nation's commitment to long-term basic research;
3) Develop, recruit, and retain top students, scientists, and engineers from both the U.S. and abroad; and
4) Ensure that the United States is the premier place in the world for innovation.

Some actions will involve changing existing laws, while others will require financial support that would come from reallocating existing budgets or increasing them. Rising Above the Gathering Storm will be of great interest to federal and state government agencies, educators and schools, public decision makers, research sponsors, regulatory analysts, and scholars.