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STEM Opportunities in FY 16

The President’s State of the Union address and the recent announcement of the “Computer Science for all,” initiative underscored the National importance of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) education and the critical role that Computer Science (CS) plays in the Nation’s schools and economy. To support this effort, the President’s budget for FY 2017 proposes over $7 billion for STEM and CS education activities. The FY 2017 budget builds upon the Administration’s commitment to increasing the Nation’s STEM competency. For example, the Department of Education (the Department) provides several opportunities for the STEM community to compete for funding through the Department’s discretionary grant programs. For more information on the FY17 Federal STEM budget, please see the White House Fact Sheet on STEM. Read More

A Commitment to Transparency: Learning More About the Charter Schools Program

Today as part of the U.S. Department of Education’s (the Department) commitment to transparency, the Department’s Charter Schools Program (CSP) released a dataset showing all grants awarded since 2006 for the planning, initial implementation, and replication of public charter schools across the nation, as well as for dissemination and expansion. The dataset provides new and more detailed information on the over $1.5 billion1 that CSP has provided, since 2006, to fund the start-up, replication, and expansion of high-quality public charter schools in almost every State with public charter schools. CSP funding has served as a critical resource to expand access to high-quality public education opportunities across the country—particularly for students living in poverty—and the Department believes that sharing CSP data is an important step in better understanding CSP’s investments. Read More

A New Chapter for Computer Science Education

This week, educators, students, and others all across the country are celebrating Computer Science (CS) Education Week.

All children can benefit from CS coursework, regardless of their intended career paths, because mastering computer science principles can help students develop foundational problem-solving skills and other key aptitudes. But, despite the value in learning CS, less than one-quarter of students nationwide have access to rigorous CS courses. We need to do more to increase educators’ awareness of and students’ equitable access to these courses.

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STEM Education: A Case for Early Learning

Russell Shilling is the Executive Director of STEM in the Office of Innovation and Improvement.

G.K. Chesterton captured the essence of early-childhood when he said, “Fairy tales say that apples were golden only to refresh the forgotten moment when we found that they were green.” Every child is imbued with a sense of curiosity and wonder. They are born scientists, engineers, and creators ready to discover the world at every turn. The goal of education should be to sustain this engagement throughout a lifetime. Read More

Communities Come Together to Support STEM Education

 

STEM Ecosystem Graphic

Diagram created by the Department of Education for the purposes of
illustrating the potential anchor organizations of a STEM learning ecosystem.

Cultivating a creative workforce that is ready to step into science, technology, engineering and math (STEM)-related fields is vital. Students need technical knowledge in these subjects, as well as critical-thinking, problem-solving, and analytical skills; these tools will prepare them for tomorrow’s jobs. But it’s not just schools that are thinking about how best to engage students.

Last week, the White House hosted the first gathering of the STEM Learning Ecosystems Initiative, a new initiative designed to bring STEM to life for young people in real-world, high-quality and engaging ways. A STEM learning “ecosystem” creates connected learning opportunities for students throughout their community, both within and outside of school.

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The Journey to 100,000 Excellent STEM Teachers

Posted by Melissa Moritz, Deputy Director of STEM, US Department of Education

This past week, Secretary Duncan highlighted the critical role of educators in “leading efforts to transform students’ lives.” As the Deputy Director of STEM here at the Department of Education, part of my job is to ensure we’re doing all we can to support educators, particularly those teaching in the critical fields of science, technology, engineering and math. In classrooms throughout the country, outstanding teachers are preparing students in these subject areas, giving them the support and tools they need to meaningfully contribute to their schools, communities and workplaces. We want all kids to have classrooms like that every year and to make that happen, we need more of these teachers.

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A Focus on Equity and Rigor in Seattle-Area Schools

When Renton High School, just south of Seattle, began making International Baccalaureate (I.B.) courses the default curriculum for juniors and seniors two years ago, some in the community weren’t sure that was a good idea.

“We had to do a lot of training and had to change mindsets in some cases,” said Damien Pattenaude, Assistant Superintendent of Learning and Teaching for Renton School District and former principal of Renton High School.

The vast majority of the high school’s students come from low-income families of color, and most of them had not previously had access to the kind of rigorous, college-preparatory courses the I.B. program offers. But Pattenaude and the Renton team were determined to change that.

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Launching the Mentoring Mindsets Initiative

Mentors can play an important role in supporting students’ success—whether they are near-peer mentors serving as role models for young students, or trusted adults and community leaders. That’s why a number of the U.S. Department of Education’s initiatives, including My Brother’s Keeper, leverage the power of mentors as key supporters and champions in students’ lives [to learn more about how to become a mentor, please click here].

One way that mentors can support students’ academic careers is by helping them develop learning mindsets and skills. Although these skills are not a silver bullet for improving public education, they are essential to teaching and learning. Alongside parents and educators, mentors can play a key part in supporting students’ resilience, sense of purpose and growth mindsets. When students become frustrated by challenges in the classroom, for example, mentors can help remind them that their minds are like a muscle that grows through effort. And when students feel disconnected from their classrooms, mentors can help them see how what they are learning in school aligns with what they hope to accomplish in life.

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Hispanic Heritage Month Spotlight: How IDEA Public Schools is Closing the Gap

In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month and Secretary Duncan’s visit to South Texas, today we are highlighting IDEA Public Schools, a Texas-based Office of Innovation and Improvement (OII) grantee that’s been recognized for helping Latinos, particularly English language learners, make strong achievement gains. Just last month, the White House Initiative on Education Excellence for Hispanics named IDEA a Bright Spot in Hispanic Education.

In 2012, IDEA won a Race to the Top – District (RTT–D) award aimed at personalizing student learning and closing achievement gaps. IDEA is also a past recipient of an Investing in Innovation (i3) grant and grants from OII’s Charter Schools Program. IDEA’s network serves approximately 24,000 students in 44 public charter schools across Texas. More than 90 percent are Hispanic, and a third are still acquiring English speaking, reading, and writing skills.

For nine consecutive years, 100 percent of IDEA’s graduating seniors have been accepted to college, and achievement scores have consistently been above the state’s average. We checked in with Tricia Lopez, IDEA’s Director of Special Programs, about what’s behind the network’s success and how the RTT–D grant has been helping the network meet its goals.

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Turning College from an Aspiration into a Reality: Aspire’s Approach

In 2010, the U.S. Department of Education launched a new program under the Charter Schools Program (CSP), called the Replication and Expansion of High-Quality Charter Schools program. This competition provides money to help successful public charter schools serve more students. The Department has now invested over $260 million in charter management organization (CMO) grantees working to launch over 500 schools—of which about 250 have already opened—across 20 states. Just this week, we announced the newest cohort of these CMO grants—so it seemed like the right time to explore how a current CMO grantee is helping students succeed. Aspire Public Schools is a two-time grantee under the CMO competition—with demonstrated success in getting students into college.

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