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Executive Summary F ollowing a 2011 report by the National Research Council (NRC) on successful K-12 education in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), Congress asked the National Science Foundation to identify methods for tracking progress toward the report’s recommendations. In response, the NRC convened the Committee on the Evaluation Framework for Successful K-12 STEM Education to take on this assignment. The committee developed 14 indicators linked to the 2011 report’s recommendations, shown in the table on page 2. By providing a focused set of key indicators related to students’ access to quality learning, educators’ capacity, and policy and funding initiatives in STEM, the committee addresses the need for research and data that can be used to monitor progress in the K-12 STEM education system and make informed decisions about improving it. Our recommended indicators provide a framework for Congress and relevant federal agencies to create and implement a national-level monitoring and reporting system with the capability to: • assess progress toward key improvements recommended in the 2011 National Research Council report Successful K-12 STEM Education; • measure student knowledge, interest, and participation in the STEM disciplines and STEM- related activities; • track financial, human capital, and material investments in K-12 STEM education at the fed- eral, state, and local levels; • provide information about the capabilities of the STEM-education workforce, including teach- ers and principals; and • facilitate strategic planning for federal investments in STEM education and workforce develop- ment, when used with labor force projections. All 14 indicators are intended to form the core of this system. However, the indicators highlighted in bold in the table—2, 4, 5, 6, 9, and 14—reflect the committee’s highest priorities. With the exception of Indicator 14, the priority indicators are nearest to the core of student learning. As such, they represent the points of greatest leverage to improve the education system and student outcomes in the STEM disciplines, and to make progress toward the goals of increasing the number of underrepresented students who pursue science and engineering degrees and careers, expanding the STEM-capable workforce, and increasing science literacy. The committee deemed Indicator 14 as a high priority because it assesses progress in filling critical gaps in knowledge about programs and practices that contribute to the goals of STEM education. 1 R02309 Monitoring K–12 STEM Ed-PRF3.indd 1 3/13/13 2:05 PM
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Monitoring Progress Toward Successful K-12 STEM Education Recommendations from Successful K-12 STEM Education (2011) Indicators Districts Should Consider All Three Models of STEM- 1. umber of, and enrollment in, different types of STEM N Focused Schools schools and programs in each district. Districts Should Devote Adequate Instructional Time and 2. ime allocated to teach science in grades K-5. T Resources to Science in Grades K-5 3. cience-related learning opportunities in elementary S schools. Districts Should Ensure That Their STEM Curricula Are 4. doption of instructional materials in grades K-12 that A Focused on the Most Important Topics in Each Discipline, embody the Common Core State Standards for Math- Are Rigorous, and Are Articulated as a Sequence of ematics and A Framework for K-12 Science Education.* Topics and Performances 5. lassroom coverage of content and practices in the C Common Core State Standards and A Framework for K-12 Science Education. Districts Need to Enhance the Capacity of K-12 Teachers 6. eachers’ science and mathematics content knowl- T edge for teaching. 7. eachers’ participation in STEM-specific professional T development activities. Districts Should Provide Instructional Leaders with 8. nstructional leaders’ participation in professional I Professional Development That Helps Them to Create development on creating conditions that support STEM the School Conditions That Appear to Support Student learning. Achievement Policy Makers at the National, State, and Local Levels 9. nclusion of science in federal and state accountability I Should Elevate Science to the Same Level of Importance systems. as Reading and Mathematics 10. Inclusion of science in major federal K-12 education initiatives. 11. State and district staff dedicated to supporting science instruction. States and National Organizations Should Develop 12. States’ use of assessments that measure the core Effective Systems of Assessment That Are Aligned with A concepts and practices of science and mathematics Framework for K-12 Science Education and That Emphasize disciplines. Science Practices Rather Than Mere Factual Recall National and State Policy Makers Should Invest in a 13. State and federal expenditures dedicated to improving Coherent, Focused, and Sustained Set of Supports for the K-12 STEM teaching workforce. STEM Teachers Federal Agencies Should Support Research That 14. Federal funding for the research identified in Successful Disentangles the Effects of School Practice from Student K-12 STEM Education. Selection, Recognizes the Importance of Contextual Variables, and Allows for Longitudinal Assessments of Student Outcomes *Because the Next Generation Science Standards had not been published at the time of this report, the committee used A Framework for K-12 Science Education (National Research Council, 2012) to develop Indicators 4, 5, and 12. These indicators can be tracked in relation to the Next Generation Science Standards when they are published. 2 R02309 Monitoring K–12 STEM Ed-PRF3.indd 2 3/13/13 2:05 PM
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Monitoring Progress Toward Successful K-12 STEM Education Data for most of these 14 indicators are, or could be, available through existing surveys adminis- tered by the National Center for Education Statistics, although those data sources have limitations that should be considered in light of the goals of the proposed monitoring system. Several of the indicators require new kinds of data collection, changes in the frequency of data collection, or additional research and conceptual development. A monitoring and reporting system designed around these indicators would be unique in its focus on key aspects of teaching and learning and could enable education leaders, researchers, and policy makers to better understand and improve national, state, and local STEM education for all students. Congress, the National Science Foundation, and the U.S. Department of Education could take the following steps to create such a system: • Determine whether to create a dedicated survey or use existing federal surveys to collect data on the proposed indicators. • More fully develop Indicators 1-14, for example, by more precisely defining what the indica- tors include, identifying what constitutes quality for each indicator, and identifying the most appropriate sources of data. • Compile, analyze, and report on data that already exist. • Modify existing surveys or create new data collection mechanisms to yield the needed infor- mation. • Produce regular reports on K-12 STEM education that analyze progress toward the indicators and goals for STEM education. • Engage stakeholders in discussions of the development of the indicators, their results, and their ongoing utility. 3 R02309 Monitoring K–12 STEM Ed-PRF3.indd 3 3/13/13 2:05 PM