Recommendations on STEM Education from Rising Above the Gathering Storm
10,000 TEACHERS, 10 MILLION MINDS, AND K–12 SCIENCE AND MATHEMATICS EDUCATION
Increase America’s talent pool by vastly improving K–12 science and mathematics education.
The highest priority should be assigned to the following actions and programs. All should be subjected to continuing evaluation and refinement as they are implemented.
Action A-1: Annually recruit 10,000 science and mathematics teachers by awarding 4-year scholarships and thereby educating 10 million minds.
Attract 10,000 of America’s brightest students to the teaching profession every year, each of whom can have an impact on 1,000 students over the course of their careers. The program would award competitive 4-year scholarships for students to obtain bachelor’s degrees in the physical or life sciences, engineering, or mathematics with concurrent certification as K–12 science and mathematics teachers. The merit-based scholarships would provide up to $20,000 a year for 4 years for qualified educational expenses, including tuition and fees, and require a commitment to 5 years of service in public K–12 schools. A $10,000 annual bonus would go to participating
teachers in underserved schools in inner cities and rural areas. To provide the highest-quality education for undergraduates who want to become teachers, it would be important to award matching grants, on a one-to-one basis, of $1 million a year for up to 5 years, to as many as 100 universities and colleges to encourage them to establish integrated 4-year undergraduate programs leading to bachelor’s degrees in the physical and life sciences, mathematics, computer sciences, or engineering with teacher certification. The models for this action are the UTeach and California Teach program.
Action A-2: Strengthen the skills of 250,000 teachers through training and education programs at summer institutes, in master’s programs, and in Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) training programs.
Use proven models to strengthen the skills (and compensation, which is based on education and skill level) of 250,000 current K–12 teachers.
Summer institutes: Provide matching grants to state and regional 1- to 2-week summer institutes to upgrade the skills and state-of-the-art knowledge of as many as 50,000 practicing teachers each summer. The material covered would allow teachers to keep current with recent developments in science, mathematics, and technology and allow for the exchange of best teaching practices. The Merck Institute for Science Education is one model for this action.
Science and mathematics master’s programs: Provide grants to research universities to offer, over 5 years, 50,000 current middle school and high school science, mathematics, and technology teachers (with or without undergraduate science, mathematics, or engineering degrees) 2-year, part-time master’s degree programs that focus on rigorous science and mathematics content and pedagogy. The model for this action is the University of Pennsylvania Science Teacher Institute.
AP, IB, and pre-AP or pre-IB training: Train an additional 70,000 AP or IB and 80,000 pre-AP or pre-IB instructors to teach advanced courses in science and mathematics. Assuming satisfactory performance, teachers may receive incentive payments of $1,800 per year, as well as $100 for each student who passes an AP or IB exam in mathematics or science. There are two models for this program: the Advanced Placement Incentive Program and Laying the Foundation, a pre-AP program.
K–12 curriculum materials modeled on a world-class standard: Foster high-quality teaching with world-class curricula, standards, and
assessments of student learning. Convene a national panel to collect, evaluate, and develop rigorous K–12 materials that would be available free of charge as a voluntary national curriculum. The model for this action is the Project Lead the Way pre-engineering courseware.
Action A-3: Enlarge the pipeline of students who are prepared to enter college and graduate with a degree in science, engineering, or mathematics by increasing the number of students who pass AP and IB science and mathematics courses.
Create opportunities and incentives for middle school and high school students to pursue advanced work in science and mathematics. By 2010, increase the number of students who take at least one AP or IB mathematics or science exam to 1.5 million and set a goal of tripling the number who pass those tests to 700,000. Student incentives for success would include 50 percent examination fee rebates and $100 mini-scholarships for each passing score on an AP or IB science or mathematics examination. Although it is not included among the implementation actions, the committee also finds attractive the expansion of two approaches to improving K–12 science and mathematics education that are already in use:
Statewide specialty high schools: Specialty secondary education can foster leaders in science, technology, and mathematics. Specialty schools immerse students in high-quality science, technology, and mathematics education; serve as a mechanism to test teaching materials; provide a training ground for K–12 teachers; and provide the resources and staff for summer programs that introduce students to science and mathematics.
Inquiry-based learning: Summer internships and research opportunities provide especially valuable laboratory experience for both middle school and high school students.
BEST AND BRIGHTEST IN SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING HIGHER EDUCATION
Make the United States the most attractive setting in which to study and perform research so that we can develop, recruit, and retain the best and brightest students, scientists, and engineers from within the United States and throughout the world.
Action C-1: Increase the number and proportion of U.S. citizens who earn bachelor’s degrees in the physical sciences, the life sciences, engineering, and mathematics by providing 25,000 new 4-year competitive undergraduate scholarships each year to U.S. citizens attending U.S. institutions.
The Undergraduate Scholar Awards in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (USA-STEM) would be distributed to states on the basis of the size of their congressional delegations and awarded on the basis of national examinations. An award would provide up to $20,000 annually for tuition and fees.
Action C-2: Increase the number of U.S. citizens pursuing graduate study in “areas of national need” by funding 5,000 new graduate fellowships each year.
NSF should administer the program and draw on the advice of other federal research agencies to define national needs. The focus on national needs is important both to ensure an adequate supply of doctoral scientists and engineers and to ensure that there are appropriate employment opportunities for students once they receive their degrees. Portable fellowships would provide a stipend of $30,000 annually directly to students, who would choose where to pursue graduate studies instead of being required to follow faculty research grants, and up to $20,000 annually for tuition and fees.
Action C-3: Provide a federal tax credit to encourage employers to make continuing education available (either internally or through colleges and universities) to practicing scientists and engineers.
These incentives would promote career-long learning to keep the workforce productive in an environment of rapidly evolving scientific and engineering discoveries and technological advances and would allow for retraining to meet new demands of the job market.