The committee’s proposed indicator system offers what we think is an important new way of advancing understanding of the state of STEM education and the development of the STEM workforce by meaningfully addressing the complex processes of schooling. It will also enable measuring progress toward the nation’s goals in these critical arenas. The proposed system represents a significant departure from existing data collection systems by linking both inputs and outcomes, and by moving beyond measures of academic achievement to recognize that variables related to student engagement and life choices also are important to meeting the goals for U.S. K-12 education in STEM.
The time to put this monitoring and reporting system into place could not be more opportune. In this era of heightened accountability in education, the availability of and capacity to collect high-quality data are greater than ever before. Moreover, with the advent of new standards in mathematics and science, the demand is increasing for data that measure the key elements of those standards. An exceptional opportunity exists to collect baseline data as states and districts begin implementing the new standards in the coming years. The committee’s proposed indicators are designed to capitalize on current opportunities and make a meaningful contribution to ongoing efforts to improve K-12 education in STEM by providing needed data to make informed decisions.