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Monitoring Progress Toward Successful K-12 STEM Education: A Nation Advancing?


"Following a 2011 report by the National Research Council (NRC) on successful K-12 education in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), Congress asked the National Science Foundation to identify methods for tracking progress toward the report's recommendations. In response, the NRC convened the Committee on an Evaluation Framework for Successful K-12 STEM Education to take on this assignment.

The committee developed 14 indicators linked to the 2011 report's recommendations, shown in the table below. By providing a focused set of key indicators related to students' access to quality learning, educators' capacity, and policy and funding initiatives in STEM, the committee addresses the need for research and data that can be used to monitor progress in K-12 STEM education and make informed decisions about improving it.

Our recommended indicators provide a framework for Congress and relevant federal agencies to create and implement a national-level monitoring and reporting system that:

  • assesses progress toward key improvements recommended by a previous National
    Research Council (2011) committee;

  • measures student knowledge, interest, and participation in the STEM disciplines and STEM-related activities;

  • tracks financial, human capital, and material investments in K-12 STEM education at the federal, state, and local levels;

  • provides information about the capabilities of the STEM education workforce, including teachers and principals; and

  • facilitates strategic planning for federal investments in STEM education and workforce development, when used with labor force projections.

All 14 indicators are intended to form the core of this system. However, the indicators highlighted in bold in the table--2, 4, 5, 6, 9, and 14--reflect the committee's highest priorities. With the exception of indicator 14, the priority indicators are nearest to the core of student learning. As such, they represent the points of greatest leverage to improve the education system and student outcomes in the STEM disciplines, and to make progress toward the goals of increasing the number of underrepresented students who pursue science and engineering degrees and careers, expanding the STEM-capable workforce, and increasing science literacy. The committee deemed Indicator 14 as a high priority because it assesses progress in filling critical gaps in knowledge about programs and practices that contribute to the goals of STEM education."