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AACTE Participates in STEM Roundtable with Department of Education

STEM education. Science Technology Engineering Mathematics. STEM concept with drawing background. Magnifying glass over education background.AACTE is a member of The STEM Education Coalition whose mission is to raise awareness among policymakers about the critical role STEM education plays in enabling the United States to remain the economic and technological leader of the global marketplace of the 21st century. The Coalition recently participated in a roundtable discussion with Deputy Secretary of Education Cindy Marten and Assistant Secretary of Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development Roberto Rodriguez on how best to advance STEM education for all students. Meredith Kier, associate professor of science education at the College of William and Mary, represented AACTE at the round table. 

Below is a summary of the discussion:

Twenty individuals were invited across the nation to participate in providing initial recommendations to the deputy secretary and assistant secretary on priorities for advancing STEM for all students across the K-20 STEM pipeline. The participants consisted of individuals from science and mathematics education who were integral to the development of national standards, scholars and non-profit organization directors that promote school-community partnerships, scholars from Minority serving institutions, affinity group organizational leaders who direct and advance diversity in STEM (e.g. Society of Women in Engineering, National Society of Black Engineers), directors of schools that promote innovative opportunities for K-12 students in STEM, and grant office representatives who focus on advancing equity across the STEM educational pipeline. All participants read the recent draft of the DOE’s Final Priorities and Definitions— Secretary’s Supplemental Priorities and Definitions for Discretionary Grants Programs to frame ideas for recommendations.

The deputy secretary and assistant secretary welcomed the participants and shared opening remarks that demonstrated a commitment to providing every student the opportunity to gain necessary content and skills in STEM, with a specific focus on computer science. The [deputy] secretary highlighted her commitment to supporting teachers and prioritizing opportunities that support Black and Brown students and those from marginalized communities to see themselves in STEM. In this initial meeting, each stakeholder submitted a template of their initial recommendations. This is the template that I submitted:

2022 Org. Priorities
(200 words or less)

The William & Mary Noyce program seeks to recruit diverse STEM majors and prepare them to teach in “high-need” schools. Through coursework and curriculum that is rich with diverse perspectives, we provide a social-justice lens to science and mathematics teaching, and practical experiences for teacher candidates to learn how to teach in high-need contexts. Our 2022 priorities include: a) centering prospective STEM teachers and STEM teacher candidates as participatory action researchers who study issues in STEM curriculum and teaching in high-needs contexts to then design curriculum and instruction; b) promoting key experiences for STEM teacher candidates to become advocates for families and communities through informal science and mathematics teaching experiences; and, c) recruiting/advising community college students to more seamlessly transfer into our teacher preparation programs.

Recommendations for the Dept. of Ed
(300 words or less)

  • State educational organizations might consider reevaluating the coursework necessary for individuals to be fully licensed in science and mathematics teaching; in many cases, applied science and mathematics disciplines such as engineering cannot count towards licensure in science and mathematics. This is antithetical to state and national standards (e.g., NGSS) that include engineering and computer science within the science and mathematics standards and curriculum
  • With the increase in students attending community colleges, there needs to be a more direct path for community college students to transfer into four-year colleges and complete secondary mathematics and science teaching licenses; by placing general education requirements present within four-year IHEs on transfer students from community colleges, we are limiting pathways to teaching due to undergraduates being unable to afford tuition costs of four-year universities
  • Ongoing support to clarify language and practices related to diversity, equity, and inclusion in STEM for IHEs and K-12 schools 
  • Funding that supports comprehensive mentorship programs for new STEM teachers within and across schools to increase their retention
  • Supporting school districts’ costs to provide provisionally licensed teachers coursework in STEM and education to become fully licensed.
  • State and national opportunities for general education science and mathematics teachers to be recognized for innovative teaching
  • Supporting research efforts on STEM teacher retention, rather than attrition, to guide administrative policies for effectively supporting STEM teachers
  • Focused efforts on providing professional development for science and mathematics teachers to bolster their content and pedagogical knowledge in computer science and engineering
  • Revising assessment practices in science and mathematics classes to be more culturally responsive and authentically assess applications of science, mathematics, engineering, and computer science

The deputy secretary and assistant secretary made clear that this was the beginning of an ongoing series of roundtable discussions that are integral to guiding the DOE’s equitable actions in STEM education.

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