Legislative Update: ED Announces FY18 Education Innovation & Research Competition

Last week the U.S. Department of Education published three notices in the Federal Register inviting applications for the Education Innovation and Research Program’s Early-phaseMid-phase, and Expansion competitions.  A priority for these grants is to improve student achievement or other educational outcomes in one or more of the following areas: science, technology, engineering, math, or computer science.

(As you will recall late last year the President asked the Department of Education to create a priority for STEM and Computer Science in existing discretionary federal grants.)

Also last week the Department hosted a webinar highlighting these grant programs and reviewed the priorities to support STEM and Computer Science education. You can access the recorded webinar here. Read the ED press release here.

The Department is seeking individuals interested in becoming a peer reviewer for these grants.  More information can be found here on the call for peer reviewers posted on the EIR website.

ED Office of Civil Rights Highlights STEM Advanced Course Taking Disparities

A new study released last week from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights reveals stark racial disparities when it comes to students’ access to advanced coursework in STEM subjects.

White students made up nearly half of the 14.6 million students in schools that offered Algebra I in eighth grade and more than half of the students enrolled in Algebra I in eighth grade.

By comparison, black students made up 17 percent of the students in schools that offered the course and just 11 percent of the students enrolled. Latino students made up a quarter of students in schools that offered the course and 18 percent of the students enrolled.

The data also shows that high schools with high percentages of black and Latino students are less likely to offer math and science courses like calculus, physics, chemistry and advanced math.

Read the Department of Education press release, the STEM Course Study pdf, and the Education Week article.

Supporting a Skilled Technical Workforce Focus of Legislation/NSF Grants

The House Science Committee unanimously approved a bipartisan bill that would direct the National Science Foundation to support several new grant programs focused on mentoring, training, and apprenticeships in STEM fields.

 “Innovations in Mentoring, Training, and Apprenticeships Act” would direct the National Science Foundation to issue grants and support research focused on the “skilled technical workforce,” defined as “workers with high school diplomas and two-year technical training or certifications who employ significant levels of STEM knowledge in their jobs.”

The legislation would also authorize $5 million per year over four years for grants to community colleges to “develop or improve” associate degree and certificate programs in high-demand STEM fields and $2.5 million per year over four years for grants to support universities that partner with employers “that commit to offering apprenticeships, internships, research opportunities, or applied learning experiences” to students pursuing four-year STEM degrees.

Read more on the bill here.

50-State Comparison of State Policies on School Leaders Now Available

Research shows that school leadership has one of the greatest impacts on student learning. States have developed policies, grounded in school leadership standards, to strengthen and increase the number of quality school leaders through traditional and alternative routes to preparation and certification. This new 50-State Comparison from the Education Commission of the States includes four data points for preparation, and three for certification and licensure. Explore how your state—and how all states—approach specific school leadership policies.

ESSA Federal Funding for Science/STEM Education in Your School or District

And finally, districts nationwide are planning right now how to use the increased federal funds available from the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) for FY2018. Is science and STEM education part of your district plan? Join me for this May 3 web seminar, more information and register here.

Stay tuned, and watch for more updates in future issues of NSTA Express.

Jodi Peterson is the Assistant Executive Director of Communication, Legislative & Public Affairs for the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) and Chair of the STEM Education Coalition. Reach her via e-mail at jpeterson@nsta.org or via Twitter at @stemedadvocate.

The mission of NSTA is to promote excellence and innovation in science teaching and learning for all.

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