Through a series of Town Halls, the STEM Learning Ecosystems Community of Practice developed five major recommendations for how the Biden-Harris administration, as well as individual states, can improve STEM learning for all.
In summary, the recommendations are:
- Foster collaboration to engage, leverage and link all relevant community resources – adoption of the STEM learning ecosystems model.
- Introduce a performance-based system, collaboratively designed system to ensure quality and alignment to strong post-secondary and/or STEM careers.
- Ensure a diverse, well-prepared, supported and high-quality teaching workforce, including involvement and leadership with students, administrators and higher education faculty.
- Encourage long-term student participation in STEM by increasing visibility, relevance, connections to the real-world and community and global challenges.
- Build a strong early learning system.
The recommendations, contained in a recently released report, “Restoring America’s Position As A World Leader By Reinvesting in STEM,” are based on a series of Town Hall sessions, surveys and focused interviews with STEM leaders from nearly every state in the country. The ideas of more than 1,000 STEM leaders, families, teachers, after-school educators as well as those from non-profits and philanthropy contributed thoughts.
In addition to fostering collaboration to engage, leverage and link all relevant community resources, the contributors to the report urge the Biden-Harris administration to support steps to improve and diversify the STEM teaching pipeline and revamp evaluation systems to allow for performance-based measures with alignment to STEM post-secondary and career options.
The report also recommends creating an early learning system for STEM and encouraging student participation in STEM by increasing the visibility, relevance and connections to real-world and community challenges.
“Family engagement in STEM is necessary to develop STEM-rich homes and STEM identities in children. Family engagement strengthens STEM learning by building a foundation and nurturing children’s interest in STEM activities across a variety of setting.” — Natasha Smith-Walker, Executive Director of the Chicago STEM Pathways Cooperative.
In addition to the recommendations, the report also includes examples of how the Chicago STEM Pathways Cooperative and other STEM Learning Ecosystems are implementing the recommendations in their daily work within their regions. This offers practical, real examples of how the Biden-Harris Administration might support scaling the work.
“The members of the STEM Learning Ecosystems Community of Practice have great hope for the Biden-Harris administration and how it will elevate STEM to improve individuals’ lives and communities by improving workforce trajectories,” — Jan Morrison, president and founder of TIES which operates the STEM Learning Ecosystems.
As the lessons from the COVID pandemic and all of 2020 continue to be inventoried and analyzed, at least one is clear: Communities that are faring the best and recovering the fastest are those with deep cross-sector partnerships and systems in place to mobilize learning and share and maximize resources. STEM Learning Ecosystems have the established structures and partnerships that enabled immediate collaboration to serve community needs, including manufacturing personal protective equipment, pairing students with business owners to improve their online presence and securing and
distributing computers and devices for getting online. Ecosystems also assisted with countless remote learning opportunities for students, including those without internet access.
The SLECoP stands as a singular, stellar example of how to form these partnerships and systems; and its leaders are eager to share their success as a model for leveraging STEM to strengthen our economy and ensure upward mobility for all.