"... Leadership tomorrow depends on how we educate our students today—especially in science, technology, engineering and math."
— President Barack Obama, September 16, 2010
The United States has become a global leader, in large part, through the genius and hard work of its scientists, engineers and innovators. Yet today, that position is threatened as comparatively few American students pursue expertise in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM)—and by an inadequate pipeline of teachers skilled in those subjects. President Obama has set a priority of increasing the number of students and teachers who are proficient in these vital fields.
The President's Fiscal Year 2015 Budget Proposal
Included in the fiscal year 2015 budget are several investments designed to improve teaching and learning in STEM subjects for teachers and students in our nation's schools. Key elements of the President's proposal include:
· STEM Innovation Proposal: This proposal includes $170 million in new funding that will help to train the next generation of innovators. Key activities include:
· STEM Innovation Networks ($110 million): This program will award grants to school districts in partnership with colleges, and other regional partners to transform STEM teaching and learning by accelerating the adoption of practices in P-12 education that help to increase the number students who seek out and are well-prepared for post-secondary education and careers in STEM fields.
· STEM Teacher Pathways ($40 million): To support President Obama's goal of preparing 100,000 effective STEM teachers, this program will provide competitive awards to high-quality programs that recruit and train talented STEM educators for high-need schools.
· National STEM Master Teacher Corps ($20 million): This program will identify, refine and share models to help America's best and brightest math and science teachers to make the transition from excellent teachers to school and community leaders and advocates for STEM education. The program will enlist, recognize and reward a national corps of outstanding STEM educators to help improve STEM teaching and learning in their schools and communities.
Together, these programs will identify and implement effective approaches for improving STEM teaching and learning; facilitate the dissemination and adoption of effective STEM instructional practices nationwide; and promote STEM education experiences that prioritize hands-on learning to increase student engagement, interest, and achievement in the STEM fields.
Only 16 percent of American high school seniors are proficient in mathematics and interested in a STEM career. Even among those who do go on to pursue a college major in the STEM fields, only about half choose to work in a related career. The United States is falling behind internationally, ranking 25th in mathematics and 17th in science among industrialized nations. In our competitive global economy, this situation is unacceptable.
President Obama has articulated a clear priority for STEM education: within a decade, American students must "move from the middle to the top of the pack in science and math." Specifically, he has called on the nation to develop, recruit, and retain 100,000 excellent STEM teachers over the next 10 years. He also has asked colleges and universities to graduate an additional 1 million students with STEM majors. These improvements in STEM education will happen only if Hispanics, African-Americans, and other underrepresented groups in the STEM fields—including women, people with disabilities, and first-generation Americans—participate.
The Committee on STEM Education (CoSTEM), comprised of 13 partner agencies—including all of the mission science agencies and the Department of Education—will facilitate a cohesive national strategy, with new and repurposed funds, to reorganize STEM education programs and increase the impact of federal investments in five areas: P-12 STEM instruction; increasing and sustaining public and youth engagement with STEM; improving the STEM experience of undergraduate students; better serving groups historically underrepresented in STEM fields; and designing graduate education for tomorrow's STEM workforce. Coordinated efforts to improve STEM education are outlined in the Federal 5-year Strategic Plan for STEM Education and will concentrate on improving the delivery, impact, and visibility of STEM efforts. The Department of Education, the National Science Foundation, and the Smithsonian Institution will lead efforts to implement initiatives in the four core reform areas, with CoSTEM—as a whole—leading efforts to improve outcomes for traditionally underrepresented groups. The administration will coordinate and streamline federal efforts to improve STEM education.