NSTA Legislative Update
April 27, 2007

Senate and House Pass Major Science Math/Innovation Bills

Senate Bill S. 761, The America Competes Act
The America COMPETES Act (S. 761), or the America Creating Opportunities to Meaningfully Promote Excellence in Technology, Education, and Science Act, is the Senate’s large innovation and competitiveness proposal. The bill is based largely on last year’s “Protecting America’s Competitive Edge,” or PACE legislation.

The legislation attempts to address the country’s competitiveness issue in a number of ways and affects programs across federal agencies. The following is a summary of the bill’s major education provisions.

Department of Education
The bill would authorize competitive grants, awarded by the Department of Education, to states to promote better alignment of elementary and secondary education with the knowledge and skills needed for success in postsecondary education, the 21st Century workforce, and the Armed Forces, and grants to support the establishment or improvement of statewide P-16 education longitudinal data systems.

Through Department of Education programs, the bill would increase the number of teachers prepared to teach Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate and pre-AP and IB math, science, and foreign language courses in high need schools, thereby increasing the number of courses available and student who take and pass AP and IB exams.

The bill would authorize grants, awarded by the Department of Education, to develop and implement programs for bachelor’s degrees in math, science, engineering and critical foreign languages with concurrent teaching credentials and part-time master’s degrees in education programs for math, science and critical foreign language teachers to enhance both content knowledge and teaching skills.

The bill would authorize the proposed “Math Now” initiative at the Department of Education, which would provide grants to states to improve math instruction in the elementary and middle grades and provide targeted help to struggling students so that all students can master grade-level math standards.

The bill would expand programs to increase the number of students from elementary school through postsecondary study who study critical foreign languages and achieve proficiency.

National Science Foundation
The bill would establish training and education programs at summer institutes hosted at the National Laboratories and increase support for the Teacher Institutes for the 21st Century program at the National Science Foundation. It would also ensure equitable distribution of funding to NSF by ensuring that increases in funding for the NSF education and human resources directorate are commensurate with the overall funding increases provided to the Foundation.

The bill expands the Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program at NSF to recruit and train individuals to become math and science teachers in high- need local educational agencies.

The bill would expand existing NSF graduate research fellowship and traineeship programs, requiring NSF to work with institutions of higher education to facilitate the development of professional science master’s degree programs, and would expand NSF’s science, mathematics, engineering and technology talent (STEP) program.

Department of Energy
Through the Department of Energy, the bill would assist states in their efforts to establish or expand statewide specialty schools in math and science that students from across the state would be eligible to attend and would provide expert assistance in teaching from National Laboratories’ staff at those schools.

The bill would create Department of Energy partnerships between National Laboratories and local high-need high schools to establish centers of excellence in math and science education.

Increased Research Investments
The bill would double funding for the National Science Foundation from approximately $5.6 billion in FY 2006 to $11.2 billion in FY 2011.

The bill would set the Department of Energy’s Office of Science on a track to double in funding over ten years, increasing from $3.6 billion in FY 2006 to over $5.2 billion in FY 2011.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration would be directed to increase funding for basic research and fully participate in interagency activities to foster competitiveness and innovation, using the full extent of existing budget authority.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and other agencies would be directed to coordinate ocean and atmospheric research and education to promote US leadership in these fields.

Developing an Innovation Infrastructure
The bill would establish a President’s Council on Innovation and Competitiveness to develop a comprehensive agenda to promote innovation and competitiveness in the public and private sectors.

The bill would require the National Academy of Sciences to conduct a study to identify forms of risk that create barriers to innovation.

10,000 Teachers, 10 Million Minds Science and Math Scholarship Act (HR 362)

H.R. 362, the “10,000 Teachers, 10 Million Minds” Science and Math Scholarship Act, sponsored by Chairman Bart Gordon (D-TN), is designed to better prepare U.S. math and science teachers. The following is a summary of the bill.

The bill would establish a teacher education program at the National Science Foundation (NSF) to encourage math, science, and engineering faculty to work with education faculty to improve the preparation of mathematics and science teachers and to provide scholarships to students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields who commit to becoming mathematics and science teachers at elementary and secondary schools. This program would expand upon the Robert Noyce Scholarship Program, renaming it the Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program and changing a number of its requirements to reflect the interest of the federal government in developing and retaining teachers in the STEM disciplines.

The bill would authorize summer teacher training institutes at NSF and the Department of Energy to improve the content knowledge and pedagogical skills of mathematics and science teachers and preparing them to teach challenging courses in science and math, including the Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate courses.

The bill would require that NSF include support for master’s degree programs for mathematics and science teachers within the NSF Math and Science Partnership program.

The bill would authorize funding for the NSF STEM Talent Expansion (STEP) program and expand the program to include centers for improving undergraduate STEM education.
The bill would establish a laboratory science pilot project at NSF, as well as an NSF grant program to support science lab improvement in secondary schools. (Before being incorporated in this bill during the Committee markup, this proposal was HR 524, the Partnerships for Access to Laboratory Science Act (PALS Act).)

National Science Foundation Authorization Act of 2007 (H.R. 1867)
On April 25, 2007, the House Science and Technology Committee approved this legislation. The bill reauthorizes the Foundation for 2008, 2009 and 2010. Under the reauthorization legislation, the authorized levels for NSF would grow annually by 7 percent after FY 2008, with additional monies for the Noyce scholarship program. The bill authorizes $873 million for NSF education programs in FY 2008, $934 million in FY 2009, and $1.003 billion in FY 2010.

Specifically in FY 2008, $94 million would be authorized for NSF’s Mathematics and Science Partnerships (MSPs), $44 million for the Science, Mathematics, Engineering, and Technology Talent Expansion Program (STEP Up), and $51.6 million for the Advanced Technology Education program (ATEP). The bill requires the Director of the NSF to fund undergraduate education division programs at a growth rate that is at least equal to NSF’s overall growth rate.

STEM education programs (both student- and teacher-focused) demonstrating positive performance would be exempt from having to re-compete for a grant under the proposal, and could receive up to a three-year extension. Education programs within the Research Directorates would document their activities for the Director, who then would report on them to Congress. Centers for Research on Learning and Education Improvement would continue to be funded under the reauthorization proposal.

Questions, or for more information, e-mail Jodi Peterson at jpeterson@nsta.org.

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