Science, Technology, Engineeringand Mathematics (STEM) Education for Hispanics (page 3)
While education reform has made strides toward improving education outcomes and closing the achievement gap for Hispanic students, much more work remains to be done, particularly regarding the need to strengthen the academic preparation of Hispanic students in the core subjects of mathematics and science. This strengthening will ensure that: 1) substantially more Hispanic students graduate from high school and enroll in and graduate from postsecondary institutions; and 2) Hispanics who graduate from college with degrees in the STEM fields will enable the United States to continue leading the world in opportunity and innovation.
President Obama's vision for improving education, particularly in the STEM fields, include:
* Making math and science education a national priority: Recruit math and science degree graduates to the teaching profession and support efforts to help these teachers learn from professionals in the field. Work to ensure that all children have access to a strong science curriculum at all grade levels.
* Improve and prioritize science assessments: Work with governors and educators to ensure that state assessments measure higher-order thinking skills, including inference, logic and data analysis, and not just rote memorization of facts.
* Address the dropout crisis: Provide funding to school districts to invest in intervention strategies in middle school—strategies such as personal academic plans, teaching teams, parent involvement, mentoring, intensive reading and math instruction, and extended learning time.
* Pinpoint college aid for math and science students: Launch an online database to give potential future scientists access to information about financial aid opportunities available in the science and technology fields through the federal government and public or private resources.
* Increase science and math graduates: Improve science and math education in K-12 to prepare more students for these studies in college. Work to increase the number of science and engineering graduates and encourage undergraduates studying math and science to pursue graduate studies. Increase the representation of minorities and women in the science and technology pipeline, tapping the diversity of America to meet the increasing demand for a skilled workforce.
The president's education plan will restore the promise of America's public education, and ensure that American children again lead the world in achievement, creativity and success.
The America Competes Act
Enacted in August 2007, the America Creating Opportunities to Meaningfully Promote Excellence in Technology, Education and Science Act (or the America COMPETES Act) builds on the goals of the American Competitiveness Initiative (ACI) to encourage American innovation and strengthen the nation's ability to compete in the global economy. It authorized the proposed Math Now Program to provide teachers with research-based tools and professional development to improve mathematics instruction and elementary and middle school students' achievement in mathematics, particularly in algebra.
In addition, the law authorized the proposed Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate (AP and IB) Program to expand low-income students' access to AP and IB course work by training thousands more high school teachers to lead AP and IB courses in mathematics, science and critical foreign languages in high-need schools. It targets low-income school districts, authorizes incentives and training to teachers to become highly qualified instructors of AP and IB mathematics and science courses, and subsidizes testing fees for low-income students.
The American Competitiveness Initiative
Announced in 2006, the ACI was established to: 1) increase federal investments in critical research and development; 2) strengthen education; and 3) encourage entrepreneurship and innovation. Included in this effort were key federal agencies that support basic research programs in the physical sciences and engineering. They included the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy's Office of Science, and the Department of Commerce's National Institute of Standards and Technology.
As part of the ACI, Academic Competitiveness Grant and National Science and Mathematics Access to Retain Talent (National SMART Grant) programs make available millions of dollars to encourage students to take more challenging courses in high school and to pursue college majors in high demand in the global economy, such as science, mathematics, technology, engineering and critical foreign languages.
Conference on the American Competitiveness Initiative
In April 2007, the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans convened a conference—"The American Competitiveness Initiative: Challenges and Opportunities for Hispanic Serving Institutions" [PDF, 1.1M]—at The University of Texas at El Paso to lay the groundwork for a response to the ACI challenge. Conference sessions and forums addressed a range of topics designed to help expand and strengthen the research capacity and infrastructure of Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs). Presenters were drawn from institutions of higher education, including HSIs, key federal agencies, Hispanic professional technology organizations, the high-tech commercial industry, the federal government, K-12 public schools, and Hispanic science and engineering associations.
Conference Outcome: WHI-ACI Working Group
An important outcome of the conference at UTEP was the emergence of a diverse working group [PDF, 51K] of stakeholders, including representatives from the corporate sector, HSIs, K-12 schools, Hispanic STEM associations, and nonprofit organizations that expressed the need to further engage in constructive dialogue to build on the momentum generated by the conference.
Since the conference, this working group has continued a dialogue about ways to work together along shared goals. The Hispanic STEM associations in particular have since held a joint board meeting to map out plans to undertake joint efforts to expand STEM opportunities in the Hispanic community, the federal government and the private sector. These and others are expanding their understanding and awareness of key national STEM efforts such as the National Math Science Initiative—a nonprofit organization dedicated to expanding programs that have a proven impact on math and science—and forums convened on this topic in Washington, D.C. The group is also seeking to strengthen relationships with K-12 public schools and institutions of higher education to create seamless transitions for Hispanic students seeking to pursue STEM disciplines. The White House Initiative anticipates that this working group will grow and assume an expanding role in helping fill the nation's need for talent in the STEM fields.
Reprinted with the permission of White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans
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