In the spirit of the season, we've come up with a few STEM-Ed items that we'd like to see happen in 2013. Some are state initiatives, some federal, some private, some public, and they're listed in no particular order:
1.) Strong implementation of national standards
Over the next year, many states will be more fully incorporating Common Core State Standards into their curricula, with an eye toward full implementation in 2013-2014. Adopting the new standards will mean new textbooks, new materials, new assessments, and new technology. All of these may, without proper funding, face significant barriers.
To complement Common Core, the Next Generation Science Standards (Next Gen) are also coming down the pike. They'll be in the final stages of review early next year. Both sets of standards get students, teachers, and schools across the country on the same page when it comes to math and science skills, and have incredible potential. But the devil's in the details, and it's important to get those right, too.
2.) Continued innovations in STEM education
The latest round of Investing in Innovation grants put a strong emphasis on STEM programs, whether it's STEM professional development or early learning. It's clear that a strong STEM background can be the root of a strong career and strong economy. Without continued support and research for innovation, though,
3.) Partnerships between business and education
We've seen some great examples recently of what happens when business and education put their minds together: IBM created P-TECH, a high school that strongly aligns a high-school curriculum to the demands of a tech workforce, and Microsoft employees have started partnering with local high schools to offer their expertise in hard-to-staff subjects, like computer science. Programs like these, that get students engaged and passionate about the opportunities in STEM,
4.) Greater access to rigorous courses
Our Vital Signs analysis showed that -- unsurprisingly -- students in the highest-need schools often have the least access to the rigorous courses. They need these to meet that college- and career-ready bar, like calculus and physics. Nationwide, one of every two schools does not offer calculus. Students of color are far more likely than their white peers to be affected by this statistic. Four in ten schools do not offer physics, and, again, it is students of color who are most likely to attend these schools. The achievement gap is an opportunity gap; finding ways to grant greater access to these courses is a necessary step in ensuring all children the future they want and deserve.
5.) Increased focus on science
While math has gotten a lot of love lately, it's time to turn our attention to science. Nationwide, time for science in elementary school has dropped by almost a third over the past 15 years, as schools squeeze time to focus on tested subjects. Enrollment in and access to rigorous science courses, like AP classes and physics, are limited by students' prior background in the subject -- you can't take calculus without mastering algebra, Only a handful of states hold their schools accountable for science when measuring Adequate Yearly Progress. Taken together, these signs mean that a huge portion of students aren't receiving the type of engaging, rigorous science education that leaves them interested and prepared to pursue STEM in the future.
What else would you like to see on the list?