Ed News: Federal STEM Education Programs Lack Coordination, Watchdog Finds

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This week in education news, GAO finds federal STEM education programs lack coordination; Juneau School District considers teaching climate change; teaching kids not to be afraid of math might help them achieve; virtual dissection provides high school students with as real an experience with the body and its workings as they can get; new report finds thousands of teachers forced to pay back their federal grants; Alaska program fosters thousands of students in STEM education;  and a new study finds elementary students matched with the same teacher two years in a row show improvement in test scores.

Mailing To Teachers Highlight A Political Fight Over Climate Change In The Classroom

Last spring, science teachers across the nation began receiving unsolicited packages containing classroom materials from a libertarian group that rejects the scientific consensus on climate change. This spring, some of the same teachers are opening packages containing very different materials: A book written by a Cornell University affiliate called “The Teacher-Friendly Guide to Climate Change,” which embraces the prevailing science, explains the phenomenon in detail and includes recommendations for how to teach the subject to children. Read the article featured on PBS Frontline.

Federal STEM Education Programs Lack Coordination, Watchdog Finds

Education in the STEM fields continues to be a priority for federal legislators, agencies, and even President Donald Trump. But according to a report released Friday, the group charged with coordinating the myriad federal STEM programs shirked several key duties, making it harder to assess the fruits of that investment. Read the article featured in Education Week.

Juneau School Officials Consider Teaching Climate Change

Juneau school officials are considering adopting national science education standards that include teaching middle and high school students about climate change. The Juneau School District is borrowing some core ideas from the Next Generation Science Standards, which include providing students with an understanding of the relationship between human activity and climate change, Alaska’s Energy Desk reported. Read the article by the Associated Press.

Teaching Kids Not To Be Scared Of Math Might Help Them Achieve

American students are bombing math. In 2015, a mere 25 percent of high school seniors were proficient in the subject, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, which produces the most reliable data on academic competency. Efforts to improve these numbers have abounded. Dozens of states have incorporated more rigorous standards through the implementation of the Common Core. Many schools have tweaked math classes to include more visualization and lessons that relate more to real life. Read the article featured in The Hechinger Report.

Digital Dissection May Be Heading To An Anatomy Class Near You

Cadaver dissection is the traditional way that medical students have learned about the human body’s parts and functions. But the practice is expensive and study cadavers aren’t easy to come by. The virtual dissection table has solved these problems for universities and now it’s a way for high schools to provide aspiring doctors with as real an experience with the body and its workings as they can get. Read the article featured in Education Week.

Thousands of Teachers Forced To Pay Back Their Federal TEACH Grants, Report Finds

More than 60 percent of teachers who received a grant from the U.S. Department of Education prior to July 2014 were forced to repay the money as an unsubsidized loan, a government report says—even though many of those teachers were still meeting the program’s teaching requirements. Read the article featured in Education Week.

With Drones, Students Tackle Complex Topics

Projects like these are heightening drone awareness among K–12 educators across the country. The latest Horizon Report for K–12 lists drones among a handful of consumer technologies that weren’t originally designed for education but “may serve well as learning aids and be quite adaptable for use in schools.” But drone adoption faces pushback. Teachers may resist adding one more initiative to an already-full day. Administrators and budget managers may view drones in the classroom as not worthy of investment when funds are limited. Read the article featured in Ed Tech.

Native Alaskans In STEM Program Work To Make Lives Better

With its grand, rural expanse and rugged terrain, Alaska has challenges made for experts in STEM. Remote areas lack basic clean water facilities, with dozens of communities still reliant on the “honey bucket” for waste, forcing residents to gather at “washeterias” to do laundry or bathe. The state is hard hit by climate change, with melting glaciers and rising sea levels threatening coastal communities. But finding people with the STEM backgrounds to address those issues is a daunting challenge of its own. Alaska has one of the lowest high school graduation rates in the country. Kids from communities where fishing is the family business might feel they don’t need higher education, and have few college-educated elders to act as models. Merely traveling to a university city inside the state is cumbersome, requiring two flights for many far-flung Alaskans. Read the article featured in U.S. News & World Report.

Looping’ With Students Boosts Learning, Especially for Kids Of Color, Study Says

Elementary students matched with the same teacher two years in a row show improvement in test scores, according to a new study. Read the article featured in Education Week.

Stay tuned for next week’s top education news stories.

The Communication, Legislative & Public Affairs (CLPA) team strives to keep NSTA members, teachers, science education leaders, and the general public informed about NSTA programs, products, and services and key science education issues and legislation. In the association’s role as the national voice for science education, its CLPA team actively promotes NSTA’s positions on science education issues and communicates key NSTA messages to essential audiences.

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