National Science Board Meeting Features K-12 STEM Teacher Panel and Update from STEM Education Working Group
National Science Board Meeting Features K-12 STEM Teacher Panel and Update from STEM Education Working Group

February 2023

The National Science Board (NSB) held its first meeting of 2023 on February 15–16. NSB establishes policies for the National Science Foundation (NSF) and also serves as an independent body of advisors to the president and Congress on science and engineering policy.

Alongside updates on NSB’s committee and outreach activities, the meeting featured a panel of K–12 teachers and administrators, who provided their perspectives on opportunities and challenges that could be addressed to improve student engagement and academic outcomes in STEM. These goals are aligned with the NSB Vision 2030, which included as one of its priorities the development of STEM workforce talent, including for the “missing millions” who traditionally have been underrepresented in STEM.

Members of the panel included:

  • Vidalina Treviño, Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellow, National Science Foundation
  • Sarah Leaman, Master Teacher Fellow, Math for America
  • Shakiyya Bland, Math Educator in Residence, Just Equations
  • Jennifer Kennedy, PK–3 STEM Specialist, SPARK Academy at Cowart Elementary School
  • Michael Lach, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment, Township High School District 113. Lach is also a member of AERA. 

Panelists noted several common themes: inclusion of teachers in conversations about STEM education, the need to address disconnects at the transition points in K–12 between elementary and middle schools  and middle and high schools, costs teachers incur for professional development, and lack of evidence-based STEM curricula in the early grades of preK–4. Additional comments referred to ongoing work to make STEM connections through culturally responsive teaching and how best to leverage limited resources to scale and translate research into practice.

The meeting also included some initial findings and potential recommendations by the Explorations in K–12 STEM Education (EKSE) Working Group. NSB established the EKSE Working Group in 2022 to examine the landscape of K–12 STEM education and find ways for NSB to support K–12 education in contributing to the development of the STEM workforce.

Through its work, EKSE examined five topical areas: teacher recruitment and retention, teacher preparedness and certification, issues in preK–3, translation of NSF-funded research into classrooms, and equity.

Members of the EKSE working group provided six governance priorities and eight advisory priorities for the NSB to consider as recommendations and possible next steps. In summary, the governance priorities included exploring the inclusion of PK–12 teachers on research panelist pools, exploring the relevance of the What Works Clearinghouse and the potential development of a repository of NSF-funded research, understanding the amount and percentage of NSF funding needed for preK-4 STEM education, exploring Major Research Infrastructure programs to develop education infrastructure for teachers, exploring expansion of the Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program, and exploring and expanding the role of NSF in developing professional networks.

The advisory priorities focused on a variety of disparities in PK–12 STEM, such as in tutoring access, teacher credentialing, pre-K teacher compensation, additional teaching responsibilities, and STEM curriculum literacy.

NSB will further consider how to best advance the NSF role in PK–12 STEM education.