ration could be to analyze the Common Core State Standards and Next Generation Science Standards to identify elements where the afterschool sector is best poised to collaborate and support common efforts. In addition, opportunities for joint professional development could have both immediate and long-term benefits in generating new knowledge through research and development. “Afterschool is a place for innovation,” said Mitchell, “and we could be leaders in that R&D effort.”
Finally, these collaborative efforts need a “clarion call” that expresses the new vision of STEM learning, Mitchell said, with champions leading the effort but everyone contributing.
Cross-sector research around network improvement communities can help the entire STEM learning system move forward collectively, said Christina Trecha, director of the San Diego Science Project at the University of California, San Diego.5 These networks can in turn provide the support that will enable progress to be sustainable, she said.
In addition, communications between the informal and formal sectors could increase awareness of the need for an institutionally supported culture of informal professional educators. “The formal education sector is really interested in having that conversation,” said Trecha. Higher education could offer a bridge between the informal and formal sectors, both in its preparation of educators and by working with current practitioners. For example, credentialing for educators in both the formal and informal sector could help create a supportive culture of professionalism.
In the short term, the group suggested that the formal sector could reach out to current or potential partners from different sectors and begin new conversations around collaboration to meet regional needs in STEM education. The result could be leadership teams that define action steps and templates for institutional reforms.
In the medium term, the sectors could work on a strategic plan with an explicit goal of using research-based evaluations to share lessons learned locally with larger STEM networks. This could represent an initial cycle of inquiry, Trecha said. “‘Trying things on’ is a term that we use in the San Diego Science Project: Trying things on, seeing if they work, and trying them on again,” she commented.
In the long term, cross-sector collaborations could lead to new activities or approaches that engage multiple sectors, from the scale of a single
5The PowerPoint file for this reporting out session is available at http://www.samueli.org/stemconference/documents/Formal%20Sector_Perspectives_on_Action_Items.pdf [June 2014].