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Title : EXPERT PANEL CALLS FOR "NEW CULTURE" OF FEDERAL EDUCATION PROGRAMS IN SCIENCE, MATHEMATICS, ENGINEERING AND TECHNOLOGY Type : Press Release NSF Org: OD / LPA Date : December 1, 1993 File : pr9390 Mary E. Hanson December 1, 1993 (202) 357-9498 NSF PR 93-90 EXPERT PANEL CALLS FOR "NEW CULTURE" OF FEDERAL EDUCATION PROGRAMS IN SCIENCE, MATHEMATICS, ENGINEERING AND TECHNOLOGY Report Urges Agencies to Improve Coordination, Evaluation, Accountability An expert panel tasked to evaluate the federal investment in science mathematics, engineering and technology (SMET) education has called for a basic change in the ways federal agencies view their roles in that education. After a year of discussion and study, the 15-member panel of education, science, and industry representatives found that SMET education programs are burdened by a lack of coordination, evaluation and accountability. "It is time for a new culture of interaction, communication and coordination within and among all the agencies," says the panel in their report, "The Federal Investment in Science, Mathematics, Engineering, and Technology Education: Where Now? What Next?" The creation of the expert panel marks the first time that federal education initiatives in science, mathematics, engineering and technology education have been exposed as a whole to the light of independent scrutiny, according to panel co-chair Karl Pister, chancellor of the University of California, Santa Cruz. He called the panel task "a constructive mission," aimed at resolving persistent national education problems. "Although some progress has been made over the last decade since the National Commission on Excellence in Education released its landmark report -- "A Nation At Risk" -- much of what it called for remains unfinished," said Pister. To continue the progress made, the federal government needs to view its SMET education programs as "a portfolio of investments," he said. "Today, the puzzle pieces are scattered; some pieces are missing, and some are duplicated. To transform these programs into a portfolio of investments, we must fit the pieces together -- one next to another, interlocking them, each one depending on the next." The panel identified more than 300 federal SMET education programs totaling more than $2.2 billion. Only one in five of the programs has been evaluated -- an unacceptable percentage, according to panel co-chair Mary Budd Rowe, professor of science education at Stanford University. "The world has grown fiercely competitive, and the U.S. simply does not have the luxury of supporting the wrong programs or failing to support the right ones," said Rowe. The report was presented to the Committee on Education and Human Resources (recently renamed the Committee on Eduation and Training) of the Federal Coordinating Council on Science, Engineering and Technology (FCCSET). Dr. Luther Williams, the assistant director for education and human resources at the National Science Foundation, is acting chair of the coordinating council's education committee. Speaking for the 13 federal agencies which operate core programs in SMET education, Williams said he takes the findings and recommendations "very seriously." "We will take this valuable input to heart, and carefully consider how best to respond. We know we need to make some changes, and here is some sound advice on how to start," said Williams. -end- Attachments: Major Findings and Recommendations of the Expert Panel List of Federal Agencies With Core SMET Education Programs List of Expert Panel Members The report, "The Federal Investment in Science, Mathematics, Engineering, and Technology Education: Where Now? What Next?" is available upon request. *** The National Science Foundation is an independent agency of the federal government established in 1950 to promote and advance scientific progress in the United States. NSF accomplishes its mission primarily by competitively awarding grants to educational institutions for research and education in the sciences, mathematics, and engineering. MAJOR FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS OF THE EXPERT PANEL 1. The investment portfolio. The Federal Commitment of dollars to science, mathematics, engineering, and technology education is significant. In 1993, $2.2 billion was expended on nearly 300 programs constituted solely to support science, mathematics, engineering, and technology education (core programs). Unfortunately, the federal portfolio of core programs is unbalanced and lacks coherence. This situation is the result of varying agency missions, a decentralized congressional resource allocation process, and a lack of overall planning and coordination. The work of the Federal Coordinating Council for Science, Engineering, and Technology, Committee on Education and Human Resources (now called National Science and Technology Council Committee on Education and Training) and its Federal Strategic Plan outlined in Pathways to Excellence constitute a strong beginning --but a stronger management plan is crucial. The management plan should designate lead agencies for Federal initiatives in particular areas and recommend the merger or phasing out, as well as the development of new programs, as appropriate. This management plan must treat Federal science, mathematics, engineering, and technology education programs like a portfolio of investments by ensuring that a greater proportion of agency programs (1) are aligned with overall strategic plan goals, (2) are coordinated across agencies, (3) use effective strategies for dissemination, (4) include appropriate evaluations, and (5) promote equity. 2. Evaluation of the investment. Only one in five federal science, mathematics, engineering, and technology education programs has been evaluated. Current evaluation practices are often inadequate for the purposes of improving programs, making informed decisions about program retention or expansion, or providing for real accountability. National needs assessment should underlie program initiatives in science, mathematics, engineering, and technology education. Programs should be evaluated rigorously for effectiveness in meeting identified needs. Evaluation results should be used as a basis for planning and revising programs and should be shared with other Federal agencies. The sharing of evaluations and evaluation results among agencies prevents duplication and wasted effort, opens opportunities for collaboration across agencies, and helps to build more successful programs within agencies. 3. Invest in learning what works. The federal government is in a unique position to provide leadership in educational research to determine what works in particular educational settings. Unfortunately, just $10 million of the $2.2 billion spent is allocated to this important function. Research should be directed toward determining what works best in particular educational settings, for particular diverse audiences, and in non-traditional settings such as adult education and life-long learning. 4. Market the investment. Less than 1 percent of federal funds for scientific and technological education are allocated to the dissemination of valuable educational resources to teachers, students, and researchers. We know this to be too little. Many federal programs are producing excellent educational materials, too few of which are reaching students in America's classroom. Aggressive targeted dissemination of information relevant to particular audiences must become the paramount feature of the federal government's commitment to leadership in education. 5. Invest in the future. We believe that the federal government should place greater emphasis on the preparation of instructors to teach at all educational levels. Currently, teacher preparation for science and mathematics instruction at the elementary and secondary level fails to include the latest findings on how best to promote student learning. Graduate students, who are tomorrow's faculty at the undergraduate and graduate levels, rarely receive any formal training in teaching at all. This lack of emphasis on the preparation of instructors locks our nation into a costly process of enhancing the skills of instructors who received inadequate initial preparation. Funding should be reallocated to provide more support for teacher preparation programs at all educational levels. FEDERAL AGENCIES WITH CORE PROGRAMS IN SCIENCE, MATHEMATICS, ENGINEERING AND TECHNOLOGY (SMET) EDUCATION Department of Agriculture Department of Commerce Department of Defense Department of Education Department of Energy Department of Health and Human Services Department of the Interior Department of Labor Department of Transportation Environmental Protection Agency National Aeronautics and Space Administration National Science Foundation Smithsonian Institution _____________________________________________________________ All the above agencies participated in the activities of the expert panel, and have received its report. MEMBERS OF THE EXPERT PANEL Karl Stark Pister, Co-Chair Chancellor, University of California, Santa Cruz Mary Budd Rowe, Co-Chair Professor of Science Education, Stanford University Stephen C. Blume Elementary Science Specialist, St. Tammany Parish Public Schools, Slidell, Louisiana Patricia Chavez Statewide Executive Director, New Mexico Mathematics, Engineering, Science Achievement (MESA, Inc.) Ronald L. Graham Adjunct Director, Resource Information Science Division, AT&T Bell Laboratories Joan L. Herman Associate Director, National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards and Student Testing, UCLA Ernest Robert House Director, Laboratory for Policy Studies, University of Colorado Jacquelyn S. Joyner Mathematics Instructional Specialist, Richmond (Virginia) Public Schools Floretta Dukes McKenzie President; The McKenzie Group John Mestre Professor of Physics, University of Massachusetts, Amherst Wendell G. Mohling President, National Science Teachers Association Michael James Padilla Chair, Department of Science Education, University of Georgia Helen R. Quinn Senior Staff Scientist and Assistant to the Director for Education and Public Outreach, Stanford Linear Accelerator Center Michael Scriven Consulting Professor. Stanford University Graduate School of Education; Director, The Evaluation and Development Group James G. Wingate Vice President for Programs, North Carolina State Department of Community Colleges


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