Ed News: Insights Into Early STEM Learning

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This week in education news, Project Lead The Way unveils a new end-of-course assessment that will test students soft skills as well as their knowledge of STEM subjects; despite a relatively steady rise in per-pupil funding, real teacher salaries rose just 7 percent since 1970, and have been largely flat since 1990; Iowa allocated $1 million to train computer science teachers; evolution and climate change skeptics lose battle over science textbooks in Florida; four senators challenge funding for global warming education programs; California legislative committee approves a bill that would provide teaching candidates willing to commit to teaching science or math curriculum for four years a state grant of $10,000; and 82% of teachers believe technology enhances learning.

STEM-Focused Program Will Test High-Schoolers’ Soft Skills

Project Lead The Way announced its new End-of-Course Assessment, the first of its kind to measure high school students’ mastery of the skills most critical for college and career success — including problem solving, critical and creative thinking, collaboration, communication, and ethical reasoning and mindset — in addition to their knowledge of STEM subjects. Read the brief featured in Education DIVE.                                                                                           

Average Teacher Salary Is Below The Living Wage In Half The Country, Report Says

In more than half the states, the average teacher is not making a living wage, a new report says. In this report, researchers at the nonprofit Education Resource Strategies found that despite a relatively steady rise in per-pupil funding, real teacher salaries rose just 7 percent since 1970, and have been largely flat since 1990. Since the 2008 recession, per-pupil funding and real teacher salaries, both adjusted for inflation, have declined in most states. Read the article featured in Education Week.

‘It’s OK To Fail:’ How Indiana Teachers Are Rethinking STEM For The Real World

In Kraig Kitts’ biology classes, it’s OK to fail. “That’s science. That’s the nature of it,” said Kitts, a science teacher at Center Grove High School. “Sometimes we don’t know. As teachers, we have a lot of pressures that everything works, every time, 100 percent.” This is the message Kitts wants to send to his students. It’s also the message he wants to relay to other Indiana teachers. Kitts is the mastermind behind the Lilly Experience for Teachers in STEM, a two-day workshop for teachers of STEM designed to redefine the field by connecting math and science curriculum to real-world applications. Read the article featured in Chalkbeat.

Iowa Dedicates $1 Million To Train Computer Science Teachers

Iowa schools are encouraged to teach computer science in every grade, making it a subject of importance in K-12 education. Recently, the Iowa Board of Education adopted suggested computer science standards, which set learning goals for students. Many Iowa schools already include computer science lesson in some form. But not all do — so to help bridge that gap, the state is offering the voluntary standards and a new $1 million state fund for teacher training. Read the article featured in the Des Moines Register.

Evolution, Climate Change Skeptics Lose Battle Over Collier Science Textbooks

The Collier County School Board voted 3-2 to adopt a new batch of science textbooks after residents filed objections to more than a dozen of them. Four Collier residents opposed some of the textbooks, making arguments ranging from unbalanced views of evolution and climate change to inaccurate racial depictions of science experts. Read the article featured in the Naples Daily News.

Insights Into Early STEM Learning

The years from birth through primary school comprise a particularly rich time for encouraging the growth of curiosity and creativity necessary in later life for careers related to STEM. Fostering STEM learning at an early age helps children develop a can-do attitude toward careers in these fields. However, learning needs to be developmentally appropriate. Furthermore, educators need guidance and support to create positive STEM education experiences for children. Read the article featured in Forbes.

Does Harrisburg Value The ‘S’ In Pennsylvania STEM Education?

Recently, Harrisburg has been making some welcome progress on the STEM and education fronts for the state. But we’ve only scratched the surface of what we need to do to provide competitive K-12 STEM education in Pennsylvania. Read the article featured in The Philadelphia Inquirer.

GOP Senators Challenge Funding For Global Warming Education Program

Four Republican senators called for an investigation of National Science Foundation grants, saying the federal agency had ventured beyond science and into political advocacy, particularly with its support of a program to encourage TV weathercasters to report on global warming. The four senators called for a probe by the foundation’s inspector general, saying the $4 million program to increase climate reporting by meteorologists “is not science – it is propagandizing.” Read the article featured on the NBC News website.

STEM Teacher Shortage Bill Advances

Teaching candidates willing to commit to teaching science or math curriculum for four years would receive a state grant of $10,000 under a bill approved by a key legislative committee. AB 2186 by Assemblyman Tony Thurmond, D-Richmond, would cost $30 million in state funds overall—a significant reduction from the $200 million that was originally proposed. The bill would also provide $5 million to cover program oversight, which would be performed by a local educational agency selected by the Commission on Teacher credentialing. Read the article featured in K-12 Daily.

Study: 82% Of Teachers Believe Tech Enhances Learning

A new MidAmerica Nazarene University survey of 1,000 teachers with at least five years of classroom experience found that 82% believe tech enhances learning, but that 70% also face “persistent” disruptions due to smartphones. The researchers, who wanted to get a better idea of how classroom technology is being used, also found that around 56% of educators reported their tools and resources are tech-based, with 42% of assignments still done by hand, and 66% said technology improved students’ productivity and engagement. Read the brief featured in Education DIVE.

How A Classics Education Prepares Students For A Modern World

With modern challenges, such as cyber-bullying or the increasing cost of medicine, a classical education, with its focus on philosophy and inquiry, can offer students the opportunity to gain knowledge and develop innovative thought, while examining issues through a moral lens. But how does a philosophy that has been taught for centuries stay relevant in an education age immersed with iPads and apps, and careers driven by the digital economy, automation and personalization? The need for thoughtfulness in our technocentric world extends beyond the creation and use of new tools. Today, students are charged with shaping policy and fighting injustice, and have endless information, and misinformation, pushed to them. Read the article featured in EdSurge.

Makerspaces Necessitate Greater Mindfulness Of Gender Bias In STEM

Despite the popularity of makerspaces, a new report from Drexel University finds that women are underrepresented in leadership roles, holding just 24% of positions, with 25% fewer girls taking part in makerspace projects in high school. The report also found gender bias in the way teachers speak of their students, referring to boys as “geek” or “builders” but to girls as just “girls.” Read the brief featured in Education DIVE.

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.

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

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