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Policy Update: Science Education Bill Introduced

May 23, 2008   Excerpted from AIP Policy Update #59

A new science education bill has been introduced in both chambers of Congress, aiming to coordinate the nation's STEM education initiatives. The Enhancing Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Education Act of 2008 (H.R. 6104) is apparently spurred by separate reports from the Academic Competitiveness Council (ACC) and the National Science Board (NSB) that found serious impediments to making meaningful progress in the STEM areas.

H.R. 6104 would create a working STEM education committee at the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). The new OSTP STEM Education Committee would coordinate efforts between Federal agencies, set annual goals for STEM education, and develop a 5-year projection of the STEM workforce.

The bill would also create an Office of STEM Education at the Department of Education to coordinate STEM efforts. This division would be responsible for boosting programs for underrepresented populations in the STEM fields, and managing the Math and Science Partnerships, Math Now, Teachers for a Competitive Tomorrow, and Minority Science and Engineering Improvement programs. Finally, the Office would be tasked with enhancing communications between various levels of government and improving STEM teacher quality.

H.R. 6104 also proposes the creation of a voluntary State Consortium on STEM Education. The Consortium would establish an Interstate Council on STEM Education to identity weaknesses in the STEM education system, and possible remedies. The Council would also develop common content standards, curriculum tools, and assessments for K-12 STEM education.

Lastly, H.R. 6104 creates the National STEM Education Research Repository (NSERR), a central hub for federally funded STEM education research. NSERR is designed to serve as a clearing house for teachers and administrators to access information on best practices and exemplary programs.

Read the entire policy update on the American Institute of Physics website.