Finally, a wide variety of outcomes can be used as criteria to identify successful schools, though it should be noted that outcomes alone do not provide insight into the practices that contribute to success. Powerful new research is being conducted using longitudinal data on student achievement; among other things, such research will provide a systematic and inclusive way to define schools that have positive student outcomes. Such research should be broadened to include outcomes other than student test scores, graduation rates, and data on the effective STEM practices we have identified. In the years ahead, this approach could provide a much more comprehensive analysis of the relative effectiveness of different schools in promoting STEM and the reasons for the differences across schools.

In many respects, effective practices for STEM are closely related to effective practices for education in general. This is not surprising. Still, it is important to pay attention to these practices in STEM because the research suggests that some strategies are unique to STEM learning and some challenges particularly affect success in STEM. STEM education is vital to our nation’s continued growth, leadership, and development, but this report has documented some important shortcomings that could hinder our progress. Drawing on these findings, we propose a series of next steps at the local, state, and national levels to strengthen K-12 STEM education.

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