National STEM Day & The Every Student Succeeds Act

Your ESSA & STEM Resource Roundup

Happy National STEM/STEAM Day! To celebrate, we thought we would take a close look at the future of STEM in education — and provide you with the resources to do so on your own, as well.

While the future of STEM is largely in the hands of dedicated, passionate teachers and enthusiastic students, it’s also inevitably dependent on policy and funding. The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) is on every educator’s mind — as of October 19th, the U.S. Department of Education has received ESSA plans from every state. Some state plans have already been approved, and other states are still waiting to hear back from the DOE. You can find a full list of ESSA plans here. The present school year marks the beginning of significant ESSA implementation.

So, what does ESSA mean for STEM? It’s a complex question, and depends largely on factors like funding, accountability, and achievement goals. In order to provide you with a deep dive into the implications of the law and the details of submitted state plans, we’ve gathered four key resources for understanding STEM and ESSA. Below, you’ll find a robust report from Achieve, Inc., a review of ESSA plans from Education First, an overview document from The National Science Teachers Association, and a podcast from Lab Out Loud featuring James Brown from the STEM Education Coalition.

NSTA: Overview of the Federal Education Law and Federal Funding for STEM Initiatives

If you’re a science educator, then you’re definitely familiar with NSTA. They’ve put together a wonderful overview document around ESSA as it relates to STEM, and if you’re fairly new to the topic, this is a great place to begin your research. The piece starts with a simple breakdown of ESSA — the basics of the law and its history — then dives into how ESSA could potentially drive STEM initiatives. The piece also has valuable information about leveraging ESSA funding to support STEM in your district. Find the full document here.

Achieve, Inc., Report: Leveraging ESSA to Promote Science and STEM Education in States

This report is comprehensive, and should serve as a great start to your reading. In this piece, you’ll find data around which state policies emphasize STEM in their accountability plans, and the current STEM assessment environment. You’ll also find information about state graduation requirements as they relate to STEM, and ESSA funding information that could influence STEM initiatives in the years to come. Check out the piece here.

Education First: Making the Most of ESSA: Opportunities to Advance STEM Education

The Education First team describes this document as a piece intended to “spark a sense of possibility” — in those terms, it might be perfect to share and review with your leadership teams. In the report, you’ll find information about the importance of STEM, the current state of inequity surrounding STEM education, and some of the key portions of ESSA that provide the most opportunity for advancement in STEM. The creators of the document reviewed 25 state ESSA plans and analyzed for trends. They’ve presented their findings in a clear, digestible format, and we think it will be a useful resource for your team. Take a look at the slideshow here.

Lab Out Loud Podcast with the STEM Education Coalition

Once you’ve combed through the data and policy, you might be ready for some information in a different medium. This quick podcast from Lab Out Loud is an excellent addition to your commute home or daily workout — hosts Dale Basler and Brian Brian Bartel chat with James Brown from the STEM Education Coalition about implications of policy change in ESSA. Find the podcast (and explore the other great episodes from Lab Out Loud!) below:

News from the DOE

👉 Also see: Recently, the U.S. Department of Education released 11 proposed priorities for grant programs “that are in place today or may exist in the future.” STEM made the list at #6, specifically as: Proposed Priority 6 — Promoting Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) Education, With a Particular Focus on Computer Science. You can find more details about the list of proposed priorities, and their relationship to STEM education, here:

Works Cited

Achieve: Leveraging ESSA to Promote Science and STEM Education in States. (2017, July). Retrieved October 31, 2017.

Basler, D., & Bartel, B. (2017, September 18). STEM Education in the Every Student Succeeds Act [Audio blog post]. Retrieved October 31, 2017.

Education First: Making the Most of ESSA: Opportunities to Advance STEM Education. (2017, July). Retrieved October 31, 2017.

NSTA: An Overview of the Federal Education Law and Federal Funding for STEM Initiatives. (2107, June). Retrieved October 31, 2017.