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Preparing the Future Workforce: Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Policy in K-12 Education.

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Last December, the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Education Coalition--a national organization of more than 600 groups representing knowledge workers, educators, scientists, engineers, and technicians--wrote to President-elect Obama urging him to "not lose sight of the critical role that STEM education plays in enabling the United States to remain the economic and technological leader of the 21st century global marketplace." While that imperative appears to have resonated in Washington, has it and should it resonate in Madison? This report attempts to answer that question by examining the extent to which STEM skills are a necessity for tomorrow's Wisconsin workforce, whether schools are preparing students to be STEM-savvy workers, and where STEM falls in the state's list of educational priorities. The author and his colleagues find that job growth predictions do indicate that both middle- and high-skills STEM jobs will provide much opportunity for future workers in Wisconsin. However, at the state level, education and budget policy has not fully recognized the greater importance of STEM education for today's students. While there are many areas in which the state is making progress, those efforts are not falling under a common STEM "banner" that would communicate to local districts a priority on skills needed for high-demand occupations of the future. In addition, Wisconsin's students may not be held to the same standards as students elsewhere, and may be at a competitive disadvantage. They conclude that Wisconsin is in need of a coordinated focus on STEM content and higher-level thinking skills in the K-12 system in order to meet its future workforce demands. The state has several initiatives underway that have the potential to positively impact STEM education, but to be truly impactful these initiatives will need coordination under a STEM banner. Appendixes provide a list of web sites to visit if interested in learning more about the national coalitions and partnerships whose policy recommendations serve as the underpinning for the policy alternatives presented in this report; and a list of a few of the many state and local organizations and groups working on K-12 STEM education in Wisconsin and their respective web sites. (Contains 9 charts, 4 tables, and 76 footnotes.)

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Author:Dickman, Anneliese; Schwabe, Amy; Schmidt, Jeff; Henken, Rob
Publication:ERIC: Reports
Article Type:Author abstract
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jun 1, 2009
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