Monday, March 21, 2011

Science and Technology Education: Preparing and Inspiring America’s Next Generation

Event Summary
Our nation's future competitiveness relies on having a workforce highly skilled in mathematics and science. Yet efforts to educate our young people in these critical areas, particularly at the secondary school level, have fallen behind those of almost all other advanced nations. The President's Council of Advisers on Science and Technology prepared a report advising the Obama administration on ways to improve science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education, especially at the K-12 level.
On September 13, the Center for Technology Innovation at Brookings and Math for America hosted a discussion about key issues in STEM education. A panel of leaders from academia, Congress and the administration, moderated by Brookings Senior Fellow E.J. Dionne, Jr., focused on these critical issues, including the development of a steady supply of outstanding teachers in math, science and technology Eric Lander, co-chair of the Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, provided preliminary insights gleaned in the course of the PCAST's ongoing study.

Comments from ERIC LANDER
The PCAST report draws certain key conclusions. First, the organizing principle -- and I give away nothing by saying that the title of the report is “Prepare and Inspire” -- is that we need a two-pronged strategy. We have to focus on preparation to make sure that every student is prepared to be able to learn STEM. But we also have to focus on inspiration, that everyone is inspired enough to learn something about STEM and many of them inspired enough to actually go into STEM.

That’s the first key conclusion and it’s an organizing principle that drives everything that we say in the report -- the kinds of teachers we need, the kind of schools we need, the kind of instructional materials we need -- have to be designed to both prepare and inspire.
We also conclude that the federal government historically over the last quarter century has really lacked a coherent strategy and sufficient leadership capacity for K-12 STEM education. There are programs galore all over federal agencies: a little thing here, a little thing there, et cetera. It’s hard to say it’s part of any coherent strategy. It’s hard to say that many of them have been historically targeted toward the kind of catalytic efforts that have the potential to truly transform STEM education. It’s hard to say that there’s been much appropriate focus on replication and scale up, and it’s very clear that there has been insufficient capacity available at the key agencies focusing on STEM education.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Expanding Underrepresented Minority Participation: America's Science and Technology Talent at the Crossroads

In order for the United States to maintain the global leadership and competitiveness in science and technology that are critical to achieving national goals, we must invest in research, encourage innovation, and grow a strong and talented science and technology workforce. Expanding Underrepresented Minority Participation explores the role of diversity in the science, technology, engineering and medicine (STEM) workforce and its value in keeping America innovative and competitive. According to the book, the U.S. labor market is projected to grow faster in science and engineering than in any other sector in the coming years, making minority participation in STEM education at all levels a national priority.

Expanding Underrepresented Minority Participation analyzes the rate of change and the challenges the nation currently faces in developing a strong and diverse workforce. Although minorities are the fastest growing segment of the population, they are underrepresented in the fields of science and engineering. Historically, there has been a strong connection between increasing educational attainment in the United States and the growth in and global leadership of the economy. Expanding Underrepresented Minority Participation suggests that the federal government, industry, and post-secondary institutions work collaboratively with K-12 schools and school systems to increase minority access to and demand for post-secondary STEM education and technical training.

The book also identifies best practices and offers a comprehensive road map for increasing involvement of underrepresented minorities and improving the quality of their education. It offers recommendations that focus on academic and social support, institutional roles, teacher preparation, affordability and program development.

Read the full report here.

Study claims US schools less welcoming to peer networks & knowledge sharing than British Schools

In sharp contrast to England’s support for peer networking, the climate for sharing locally developed knowledge and best practices appears much less hospitable in U.S. schools and school systems, concludes a report issued today by the Annenberg Institute for School Reform at Brown University (AISR).

Entitled “Lessons from England and Implications for the United States,” the research compared the policy and practice landscape of networking and collaboration among school leaders and teachers within England versus New York City schools, and examined whether peer networks in New York City and London fostered effective practice. The investigation, conducted over a six-month period during 2009-10, is part of a series called the “Transatlantic Dialogue on Collaborative Networks.”

“Many public sector organizations and schools are not designed to promote sharing and collaboration; they have cultures of knowledge hoarding, where ‘knowledge is power’ is still a central cultural tenet,” states the report, co-authored by the Annenberg Institute’s Jacob Mishook and Sara McAlister, and Karen Edge of the Institute of Education at the University of London. “The push in the U.S. for new teacher-evaluation systems that rely primarily on matching individual teachers with their students test scores threatens to exacerbate this competitive, rather than collaborative, system of teaching.”

Read the full report here.