CCST Executive Director Susan Hackwood is co-chairing the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Task Force with Herb Brunkhorst, Chair of the Department of Science, Mathematics, and Technology Education at California State University, San Bernardino, in a bid to develop a blueprint on how to improve teaching, learning, and equal access to STEM-related courses and careers for students in kindergarten through grade twelve. The resultant blueprint will include career technical education, and newly developed national Common Core State Standards and Next Generation Science Standards.
“This is a project aimed at providing a practical framework for the state to operate in,” said Brunkhorst. “What should STEM education look like? What resources are available? How does professional development fit in? What model programs are out there that can be emulated? There are many questions we hope to answer.”
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson, working with Assemblymember Susan Bonilla, created the STEM Task Force to look at how to improve learning and engage more students in scientific and technical fields, widely considered a key to the state’s economic future.
“California has always led the way in science and technology – and our future success depends on fostering an interest in these fields among our students,” Torlakson said. “Our classrooms are filled with the leaders of tomorrow, and we need to give them every opportunity to reach their potential.”
“The state has long had a vested interest in science and math education,” said Hackwood. “STEM is a unifying framework which is frequently referenced, but rarely defined in terms useful to K-12 education.”
The task force includes over fifty experts from a wide range of stakeholders including teachers, business, industry, legislative staff, and university academics, divided into five subgroups examining specific areas such as curriculum and assessments.
Other task forces are examining technology in education and teaching and learning; all three are expected to complete their work by the end of the year.
The work of the STEM Task Force complements CCST’s ongoing work on digitally enhanced education, which was identified as a key element of California’s innovation infrastructure in CCST’s 2011 Innovate to Innovation study. CCST has produced two white papers on digital education in 2012 and has a third in production, which have served to inform the digital education initiative being pursued by the California Teacher Advisory Council (Cal TAC).
“Ultimately we are looking at developing an integrated vision of a 21st century school system which encompasses every aspect of STEM, including the digitally enhanced education environment that will allow us to improve teaching, learning, and provide equal access to STEM-related courses and careers for students in kindergarten through grade twelve,” said Brunkhorst.