This blog from ASPB's public affairs unit will provide updates on policy developments in Washington and other plant biology news impacting the ASPB community. Please send any news, comments, or suggestions to ASPB's public affairs director, Adam Fagen, at firstname.lastname@example.org
Policy Archives available under Group Pages.
Posted By Lewis-Burke Associates LLC,
Friday, February 24, 2012
Associates LLC – February 22, 2012
7, the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST)
released the report, "Engage to Excel: Producing One Million Additional
College Graduates with Degrees in Science, Technology, Engineering, and
Mathematics (STEM).” This report on
undergraduate education is a follow-up to an earlier PCAST report on K-12 STEM education that was released in September
2010, and both are centered on the goal of creating a STEM-capable
workforce. The new report focuses on the first two years of undergraduate
learning, which PCAST considers a crucial step in the STEM pipeline.
The recommendations are:
Catalyze the adoption of empirically-validated teaching
techniques through the alignment of incentives for faculty, the expansion
of disciplinary models that prepare new faculty in research-based STEM
teaching, and the creation of a new grant program for institutional
transformation. The report also recommends that the National
Academies create metrics to evaluate STEM undergraduate teaching and learning.
Create new research courses for first and second year
students to involve students in research early and move away from
"cookbook” experiments. Scale-up model research and design courses
and change federal rules to allow the expansion of opportunities for
students in faculty research laboratories.
Engage mathematicians and scientists in a national
postsecondary mathematics education experiment to improve math education
and ensure that early math courses are connected to science learning
Encourage stakeholder partnerships to diversify
pathways to STEM careers, including connecting high school students to
summer STEM learning opportunities, strengthening pathways from two to
four year institutions, and catalyzing the creation of public-private
partnerships to advance STEM learning that establishes industry-relevant
Create a Presidential council to provide leadership on
undergraduate STEM education. This council would involve various
stakeholders from academia, business, foundations, and scientific
societies to inspire changes to undergraduate education and make
recommendations on specific federal activities.
response to the PCAST report, the President announced new initiatives in the fiscal year (FY) 2013 budget request to support the
Widening Implementation and Demonstration of
Evidence-based Reforms (WIDER): $20 million would be provided (a 150
percent increase over FY 2012) to increase the use of evidence-based
undergraduate STEM education practices through institutional reforms.
Expeditions in Education (E2):
NSF would establish a new program E2 to connect EHR with NSF
research directorates and offices to "integrate, leverage, and expand STEM
education research and development” with NSF research activities. E2
would be supported at $49 million in FY 2013 with a focus on
undergraduate education, sustainability, and cyberlearning.
K-16 Math Education: NSF will work with
the Department of Education to develop an "evidence-based initiative to improve
K-16 mathematics and knowledge building.” In FY 2013, the Department of
Education’s Fund for the Improvement of Education and NSF’s Directorate for
Education and Human Resources (EHR) will each contribute $30 million, with
EHR’s support through the Discovery Research K-12 and Transforming
Undergraduate Education in STEM (TUES) programs. Funding for other TUES
activities would also be increased.
STEM Teacher Training: $80 million would
be provided through the Department of Education for a new competitive program as
part of the Effective Teachers and Leaders program. The new funding would
support STEM teacher preparation programs, such as those modeled on the
University of Texas UTEACH program that allows undergraduate students to earn a
STEM bachelors degree and a teaching certificate at the same time.
The Council of Graduate Schools (CGS) and the Educational
Testing Service (ETS) have convened a commission of academic and industry
leaders to consider students’ pathways through graduate school and into
careers. The need to develop a highly skilled workforce was first addressed in
a 2010 landmark report The Path Forward:
The Future of Graduate Education in the United States. That report argued
that the nation’s future prosperity and ability to compete in the global
marketplace depends on producing graduate degree holders prepared to address
the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century. One major unmet need the
report identified was that of understanding pathways through graduate school
into the world of professional occupations.
The new commission will guide a research effort addressing
issues such as graduate student knowledge of career options and how they learn
about them, the role of graduate programs and faculty in informing and guiding
students, and the career pathways that those with graduate degrees actually
follow. The commission will also help create a national conversation about why
understanding of these pathways is important.
The members of the Commission on Pathways through Graduate School and into Careers are listed below:
William D. Green, Chairman, Board of Directors, Accenture
Stan Litow, President, IBM Foundation, and Senior Vice President, IBM
Joseph Miller, Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Office, Corning
Teachers with high capacity to teach in their discipline
A supportive system of assessment and accountability
Adequate instructional time (time spent on elementary science instruction has decreased in recent years, likely because of focus on reading and math in No Child Left Behind Act)
Equal access to high-quality STEM learning opportunities
School conditions and culture that support learning
The report suggests that one way to elevate science to the same level of importance as mathematics and reading is to assess science subjects as frequently as is done for reading and math, using an assessment system that supports learning and understanding.
The report calls upon policymakers to invest in helping educators in STEM fields teach more effectively, including professional development through peer collaboration and professional learning communities, among other approaches. The report also recommends that school districts should consider specialty schools that are targeted to STEM disciplines.
The study, which was sponsored by the National Science Foundation, was authored by a committee chaired by Adam Gamoran, John D. MacArthur Professor of Sociology and Educational Policy Studies and director of the Wisconsin Center for Education Research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Thanks especially to ASPB's great group of volunteers:
Roxane Bouten, Mary Clutter, Anne Datko, Rob Donaldson, Elena del Campillo, Chioma Ebiringa, Gary Fleming, Elizabeth Gantt, Thomas Hardy, Courtney Hollender, Sarah Josway, June Kwak, Emily Lin, Zongchi Liu, Bruce McClure, Giullaume Pilot, Rejane Pratelli, Jennifer Shemansky, Janet Slovin, Ganesh Sriram, Hevan Sze, George Ude, Hemayet Ullah, Shunyan Xiao, Gabi Yamoah
A special thanks to Education Committee Chair Erin Dolan and Education
Foundation staff Katie Engen for not only staffing the booth, but
organizing the details.
We had well more than 1,000 families visit the booth during the festival, and we couldn't have done it without the volunteers' energy and enthusiasm.
President Obama played host for the White House Science Fair, which
celebrated the winners of a broad range of science, technology,
engineering and math (STEM) competitions. This event follows from the President's statement last November: "If you win the NCAA championship, you come to the White House. Well,
if you're a young person and you produce the best experiment or design,
the best hardware or software, you ought to be recognized for that
The White House Science Fair kicks off a week that culminates with the
USA Science and Engineering Festival on and around the National Mall in Washington, DC, and in 50
satellite locations, poised to engage more than a million people
At the White House Science Fair, President Obama will view exhibits of
winning student projects, ranging from breakthrough basic research to
new inventions, and will deliver remarks congratulating these students
on their diligence, desire to tackle hard problems, and drive to invent