We offer proposals to policy makers that collectively have the potential to improve K-12 STEM education. To make progress in improving STEM education for all students, policy makers at the national, state, and local levels should elevate science to the same level of importance as reading and mathematics. Science should be assessed with the same frequency as mathematics and literacy, using a system of assessment that supports learning and understanding. Such a system is not currently available. Therefore, states and national organizations should develop effective systems of assessment that are aligned with the next generation of science standards and that emphasize science practices rather than mere factual recall.
National and state policy makers should invest in a coherent, focused, and sustained set of supports for STEM teachers to help them teach in effective ways. Teachers in STEM should have options to pursue professional learning that addresses their professional needs through a variety of mechanisms, including peer-to-peer collaboration, professional learning communities, and outreach with universities and other organizations.
Furthermore, federal agencies should support research that disentangles the effects of school practice from student selection, recognizes the importance of contextual variables, and allows for longitudinal assessments of student outcomes, including the three strategic goals of STEM education and intermediate outcomes. Federal funding for STEM-focused schools should be tied to a robust, strategic research agenda. Only knowledge of this sort will allow a full response to the questions that were put to this committee.