National Science Education Standards Supported
The National Governors Associations (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) in July announced a project to establish a set of common core education standards in English and math. Meanwhile, Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) and Rep. Vernon Ehlers (R-MI) reintroduced legislation to promote a voluntary effort by states to adopt standards in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education.
The NGA and CCSSO's Common Core State Standards effort involves 49 states and territories. The groups plan to develop and implement "research and evidenced-based math and English internationally benchmarked standards" to better prepare students academically. With U.S. students under-performing in international assessments, the NGA and CCSSO hope the core standards will bring U.S. math and language skills up to par with countries it lags behind, as well as addressing regional disparities that exist because of the patchwork of existing state standards.
The Dodd-Ehlers Standards to Provide Educational Achievement for Kids (SPEAK) Act would create national standards for STEM fields, similar to the standards that are to be created by the NGA and the CCSSO. The legislation would amend the National Assessment of Educational Progress Authorization Act, which currently only includes math and English, to include science as part of the assessments. The bill would also direct the NGA board to develop course content for grades K-12 and would provide grants to states if they adopt the voluntary standards and alter teacher certification criteria in order to meet the standards.
Meanwhile, other bills to bolster STEM education have also been introduced. The STEM Coordination Act (H.R. 1709 and S. 1210), sponsored by House Science and Technology Committee Chairman Bart Gordon (D-TN) and Sen. Edward Kaufman (D-DE), would establish a committee within the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy's National Science and Technology Council (NSTC) to synchronize STEM education efforts across federal agencies. The legislation, which passed the House and is now being considered by the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, calls for a new NSTC STEM Committee to evaluate all federal STEM education programs every five years. …