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NGA Brings Together Leading Business and Academic Leaders and Governors to Discuss STEM Education

Last week the National Governors Association (NGA) announced the 17 members of their Innovation Task Force, the group’s yearlong initiative chaired by NGA Chair Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano.

In conjunction with the NGA Center for Best Practices the task force will work to identify challenges to innovation and determine the most promising strategies, policies, and programs for addressing them. The agenda includes discussions about the state innovation landscape, K-12 science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education and the role of postsecondary education as an engine of innovation.

Members of the Commission include: Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius; Missouri Gov. Matt Blunt; Pennsylvania Gov. Edward G. Rendell; and Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. Business and academic leaders include: Dr. Craig R. Barrett, chairman of the board, Intel Corp.; Dr. G. Wayne Clough, president, Georgia Institute of Technology; Dr. Michael M. Crow, president, Arizona State University; Jamie Dimon, CEO, JPMorgan Chase & Co.; Charles O. Holliday Jr., chairman and CEO, DuPont; Dr. Shirley Ann Jackson, president, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute; Dr. Judith A. Ramaley, president, Winona State University; Dr. Mary S. Spangler, chancellor, Oakland Community College; John Thompson, chairman of the board and CEO, Symantec Corp.; Kevin Turner, COO, Microsoft Corp.; and Meg Whitman, president and CEO, eBay Inc.

For more information, visit http://www.nga.org.

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Math and Science Education and United States Competitiveness: Does the Public Care?

A poll released last week by the American Council of Education shows that the general public and policymakers, business leaders, and other opinion leaders have different ideas when it comes to addressing American competitiveness and STEM education.

While policy-makers and opinion leaders recently have paid significant attention to maintaining America’s competitiveness and have worked to bolster STEM education, less than one-third (31%) of 1,000 registered voters polled by The Winston Group last fall believe that” math and science classes offered to students not majoring in those fields are ‘very relevant’ to life after graduation. Only a slight majority of those polled (54%) believe that all students should have to take more math and science courses.

“There is a significant disconnect between the general public and policy-makers and higher education leaders on the subject of maintaining and enhancing our global competitiveness,” said David Ward, president of the American Council on Education, which manages the Solutions for Our Future campaign for a coalition of colleges, universities and community and business partners. “The public views our global competitiveness as a threat to wage levels, while policy-makers view the issue as a need for a better prepared workforce. What is clear is that higher education leaders and policy-makers must do a better job of communicating with the public about the importance of math and science education to the economic success of future generations of Americans.”

Solutions for Our Future is a national campaign to increase public awareness of the many ways that American colleges and universities serve the public. For more information on the key findings in this poll go to http://www.solutionsforourfuture.org.

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California Unlikely to Meet NCLB Goals Says Teaching and Learning Center; Science and Mathematics Education Must Be Strengthened

A report issued last week by the Center for the Future of Teaching and Learning titled California’s Teaching Force 2006: Key Issues and Trends finds the state falling far short of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) goal of 100% of students being proficient in mathematics and English by 2013-14.

Less than half of all California students were able to demonstrate proficiency on state tests in 2006, and about one-third of schools did not meet federal requirements for Annual Yearly Progress (AYP) as required by NCLB. Hispanic, black, and poor students continue to lag behind their white, Asian, and more affluent peers at nearly all grade levels and in nearly all subjects.

The report claims “the place to start would be with an intensified effort to strengthen science and mathematics teaching for those already in the classroom.” Currently fewer than half of all students have reached proficiency levels in math and science, and there is a shortage of fully prepared math and science teachers:

  • 38% of eighth-grade students scored at the proficient level or above on the California Standards Test (CST) in science in 2006. Proficiency rates were lower for Latino students (23%) and African American students (21%). By contrast, 55% of white students and 65% of Asian students scored at proficient levels or above.
  • 11% of life science and 20% of physical science teachers in high schools were teaching out-of-field, meaning they did not have the appropriate credential for the subject they were teaching.
  • 16% of math and 14% of science teachers in middle and high schools serving predominately minority students were under prepared.

The report recommends that state leaders develop a plan to add more science and math teachers; the plan should include recruitment, preparation, hiring, and professional development.

For more information, visit: http://www.cftl.org/pressroom_relview.php?release=dec06.php.

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Teaching Science in the 21st Century: Part 4 in a Series from NSTA Reports

The fourth installment in NSTA Reports’ series is titled “Investing in Professional Learning Brings Dividends for Science Literacy of Teachers and Students”. Written by Susan Mundry, the piece begins with “NCLB has its detractors who worry that sanctions for low performing schools threaten the future of public education and that required assessments reward schools for meeting set targets, not for significant student growth. Yet, few educators argue with the law’s vision for learning for all. Those of us who know the necessity of science literacy in today’s world welcome the addition of science as essential content. For too long, poor and nonwhite students and those with special educational needs have achieved well below their counterparts in science. It is time to rectify this problem.”

This series offers opinion pieces by many of the leaders in science education today. To read the fourth installment in the series, visit http://www.nsta.org/main/news/stories/science_story.php?news_story_ID=53035. To find out more about the book, visit http://store.nsta.org/showItem.asp?product=PB195X.

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Not Sure Attending the National Conference on Science Education Is Right for You?

Did you know?

NSTA conferences provide the best opportunity for you to…

  • learn the latest science teaching trends;
  • fulfill professional development requirements;
  • network with other science teaching professionals;
  • meet experts in the various science fields, including scientists from NASA, NOAA, FDA, and so many others;and
  • learn about grants to help you get the tools you need to make your students’ learning experience the most inspiring.

To read about specific topics offered at the National Conference on Science Education in St. Louis, Missouri March 29-April 1, 2007, visit http://www.nsta.org/conferences. Registration opens December 18!

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Your Opinion Counts—Take NSTA’s Survey to Help Revamp Our Website

NSTA is revamping its website, and we need your help. Please complete a 10-12 minute survey that will give us suggestions for how we can improve www.NSTA.org and make it more valuable to you.

Click on this link http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.asp?u=318302921230, or copy the link into your browser, and you will be directed to a web-based survey. At the end of the survey, enter your name and email address to be entered in a drawing to win a free iPod.

Thank you in advance for helping to improve the NSTA website!

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And Don’t Forget…

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Professional development courses in your future?
Online options give you a world of choice.
Take a look at these institutions offering courses for science educators!

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