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NASA’s Elementary and Secondary Education Program: Review and Critique
an evaluation of the effectiveness of the overall program in meeting its defined goals and objectives;
an assessment of the quality and educational effectiveness of the major components of the program, including an evaluation of the adequacy of assessment metrics and data collection requirements available for determining the effectiveness of individual projects;
an evaluation of the funding priorities in the program, including a review of the funding level and trend for each major component of the program and an assessment of whether the resources made available are consistent with meeting identified goals and priorities; and
a determination of the extent and effectiveness of coordination and collaboration between NASA and other federal agencies that sponsor science, technology, and mathematics education activities.
NASA, in consultation with the NRC, interpreted the charge to mean a focus on the Elementary and Secondary Program managed by the Office of Education. This program includes seven projects:
the Aerospace Education Services Project (AESP)
the Science, Engineering, Mathematics and Aerospace Academy (SEMAA)
NASA Explorer Schools (NES)
the Digital Learning Network (DLN)
Education Flight Projects (EFP)
the Educator Astronaut Project (EAP)
the Interdisciplinary National Science Project Incorporating Research and Education Experience (INSPIRE)
The study committee reviewed a wide range of documents related to NASA’s programs in precollege STEM education, heard testimony from NASA staff, and commissioned three papers. As is the case with many federal science agencies involved in education outreach, only a limited number of external evaluations of NASA education projects have been conducted. As a consequence, the committee also relied on relevant research evidence and committee members’ collective expertise when drawing conclusions about how projects could be improved. The committee developed specific recommendations for only three of the seven projects—NES, AESP, and SEMAA—because the other four projects had been in place too short a time or lacked sufficient documentation of project performance.
The report provides a summary of the committee’s findings regarding the recent history of NASA’s education program and K-12 projects (Chapter 2) and the federal context for NASA’s role in K-12 education,