While the bill does not reauthorize the Math Science Partnerships grant program, it does more than make up for the loss, advocates said.
Here are some STEM education highlights from the bill:
· ESSA maintains the current requirement around science and math testing. Students would have to take math tests annually in grades 3 through 8 and once in high school, and science tests three times between grades 3 and 12. "That's a huge victory because you could have easily seen science testing disappear," James Brown, the executive director of the STEM Education Coalition, said in an interview.
· It establishes dedicated federal funding for either a state-led STEM master-teacher corps or STEM professional development. President Obama has been pushing the creation of a STEM master-teacher corps for some time, and Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., has been a major champion of it. The bill allows the education secretary to use Title II funds to establish a competitive grant program for states to create such a corps. The goal would be "to elevate the status of the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics teaching profession by recognizing, rewarding, attracting, and retaining outstanding science, technology, engineering, and mathematics teachers, particularly in high-need and rural schools." The secretary could also use that funding for bolstering STEM professional development.
· It helps states integrate engineering concepts into state science assessments. This is interesting because a third of states have now adopted the Next Generation Science Standards, which emphasize engineering practices, and even those that have not are moving toward including more engineering in their science instruction. As of now, there are no standardized tests aligned to the new standards. The bill would let states use federal funding to refine science assessments to "integrate engineering design skills and practices."
· It allows both Title II and IV funding to be used for improving STEM instruction.
· It supports alternative certification for STEM teachers, as well as differential pay. States can use federal funds to "establish, expand, or improve alternative routes for" STEM teachers. They can also use federal funds for paying teachers more for high-needs subjects, including STEM.
For the full story: http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/curriculum/2015/12/stem_funding_streams_expanded_NCLB_rewrite.html