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Senate ESEA Highlights STEM and Science Museums

January 08, 2012

In October 2011 the U.S. Senate Health Education, Labor and Pension (HELP) Committee approved its version of the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), currently called No Child Left Behind. Senators Jeff Merkley (OR), Al Franken (MN), Mark Begich (AK), and Kirsten Gillibrand (NY) introduced the bill entitled, "Preparing Students for Success in the Global Economy."

The intent is to revamp the Math-Science Partnership program to be more inclusive of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM). The goals are to: 1) engage students in STEM subjects through high-quality instruction, opportunities to participate in STEM competitions, and exposure to STEM careers; 2) offer more students access to high-quality STEM courses and other learning opportunities; 3) improve the effectiveness of classroom instruction by recruiting, training, and supporting excellent STEM teachers and offering students and teachers robust tools and supports; and 4) close student achievement gaps and prepare more students for college and career readiness and success in STEM subjects.

Depending on the funding level, grants will be divided among all state applicants or awarded competitively, in which case states would develop a statewide STEM education plan and competitively award subgrants to eligible subgrantees. Thanks to the work of ASTC members Oregon Museum of Science & Industry, Iowa Science Center, Museum of Science & Industry, Chicago, Museum of Science, Boston and others, eligible subgrantees now include high-need local education agencies (LEAs) and non-profit organizations, such as science museums or universities in partnership with one or more LEA.

Subgrantees would be required to: 1) provide high-quality teacher preparation, recruitment support, evaluation, and professional development in the identified subjects; 2) develop high-quality curricula and instructional supports; and 3) support differentiated instruction in STEM subjects for all students, including those with disabilities and English language learners. Subgrantees would be required to obtain matching funds as determined by the state.

The Senate and House will have to reconcile their differences in conference once each chamber has completed its work on the reauthorization.

The Museum of Science, Boston

  1 Science Park, Boston, MA 02114  phone: 617-723-2500