the survey becomes too onerous for respondents. Thus, any modifications would ideally be undertaken as part of efforts to systematically streamline SASS. More broadly, placing the burden of this monitoring system on the shoulders of existing national surveys will require strategic decisions about the frequency, subject matter, and question rotations of those surveys.
Developing new kinds of data collection for some of the indicators might help to alleviate this problem. For example, background questionnaires for students, teachers, and schools that could be administered with assessments related to the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics (and eventually, A Framework for K-12 Science Education3) would be a valuable new data collection mechanism for several of the proposed indicators. Because student assessments aligned with the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics are currently under development, an exceptional opportunity exists to develop accompanying background surveys that directly measure the key elements of these reforms. Such surveys could become the primary data collection vehicle for several of the proposed indicators. They would be especially valuable because they would be regularly administered across the majority of states and could be coupled with student achievement data.
Although the proposed indicators do not specifically mention different student populations, the aim of equitable access to resources and learning opportunities for all students is central to the goals for education in STEM. Because disparities in access to high-quality learning opportunities, instructional materials, and teachers contribute to achievement gaps among students from different racial, ethnic, language, and socioeconomic groups, tracking patterns in access to those resources is an essential component of Indicators 1-8. Thus, the committee’s intent is for data on Indicators 1-8 to be collected and analyzed in a manner that provides an understanding of variation among different student populations and socioeconomic contexts.
As noted in Successful K-12 STEM Education, high-quality education in the STEM disciplines can take place in diverse public school settings, including STEM-focused schools with selective admission policies, STEM-focused schools with inclusive admission policies, STEM-focused career and technical education programs, and comprehensive public schools (see National Research Council, 2011, for a more complete description of the school types). Because these schools often have different goals and pursue different strategies to meet those goals, and because the evidence is not sufficient to recommend one type of school over another, Successful K-12 STEM Education recommended that “districts seeking to improve STEM outcomes beyond comprehensive schools should consider all three models of STEM-focused schools” (National Research Council, 2011, p. 27). Although variation exists within and across these categories, they share an emphasis on the STEM
3Because the Next Generation Science Standards were under development at the time of the report, the committee used the basis for those standards—A Framework for K-12 Science Education—to inform this report.