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New federal STEM plan released, read our first thoughts

Note from Heather Sherman, Director of the Ohio STEM Learning Network:

When I first talked with many of you at our meeting in July, I explained my intention that our network would start to expand its understanding and influence over education policy.

Today, there’s big news on that topic. The White House has unveiled a new report that will guide investments by federal agencies and seeks to influence the national conversation on STEM education. Including Ohio. We’ll continue reading through and understanding this plan more. Today, here’s a brief  summary by my colleague Wes Hall, Director of Battelle’s national STEMx network.

Wes Hall, STEMx (original post): On Tuesday, the White House released Charting a Course for Success: America’s Strategy for STEM Education (download), a new federal STEM education strategic plan intended to serve as a rallying point for the STEM community and to provide guidance for federal agencies that offer STEM funding opportunities.

The White House was required to publish this plan. Congress mandated the publication of “five-year STEM strategic plans” in the America COMPETES Act of 2010. That mandate, though, doesn’t specify how the plan should be written. I’ve had some brief time to review what’s been produced and see many opportunities for members to engage.

In short, the writing team put in the work to make this document reflective of many voices in the STEM community. I applaud the administration for encouraging input from a diverse array of stakeholders – including a strong student voice for what’s working in the classroom. That concerted outreach push started with a June meeting outlining the foundations for the plan. It continues through the document we see today.

Moreover, the report is brief and readable. It clocks in at just 36 pages and it’s peppered with specific call outs to high quality programs across the U.S.

Today, the White House released the new plan

What about its structure? The new plan is centered around the vision that “all Americans will have lifelong access to high-quality STEM education and the United States will be the global leader in STEM literacy, innovation, and employment.” To advance that vision, the plan outlines three aspirational goals that will be key to progress:

  1. Building Strong Foundations for STEM Literacy
  2. Increasing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in STEM
  3. Preparing the STEM Workforce for the Future

Additionally, the federal strategy is built on four pathways that focus on developing and enriching strategic partnerships, engaging students where disciplines converge, building computational and digital literacy, and operating with transparency and accountability to measure the impact of collective STEM efforts.

On my first read of the plan, I was looking for a few simple but essential pieces. One: a commitment to equity and diversity in STEM. That’s included. Two: a structure that recognizes the importance of state-level leadership and encourages collaboration across state lines to advance evidence-based practices. Included. I also appreciate that the plan recognizes the importance of expanding work-based learning opportunities for both students and teachers to make STEM learning relevant and engaging. I believe STEMx and its members are well positioned to engage and mobilize around several central tenets of the plan.

Policy and strategy matter. So does implementation. Over the next few weeks and months, STEMx will offer members deep-dive learning opportunities to explore the plan’s content and consider the implications and opportunities for our collective work.

Thank you to each of our leaders that participated in the White House STEM Summit and offered additional critical feedback into the creation of this plan. Now, as the collective STEM community, it’s our turn to advance STEM for All with renewed vigor.

Sincerely,

Wes

 

 

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