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How Do We Make ALL Children Smart in STEM?

Presenter: Alan Leshner, American Association for the Advancement of Science
Respondents: Heather Gonzalez, Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress; Lillian Lowery, Maryland Department of Education; James Pellegrino, University of Illinois at Chicago


Many critical questions in STEM education seem to get muddled around the issues of who we are worried about educating and for what purposes. The nation badly needs a scientifically competent workforce to compete on the international stage. Yet our focus too often is only on the best and brightest and how to bring them into the professional workforce. This disconnect must be addressed if we are ever going to make the progress we need.


About the Presenter:
Alan Leshner, Chief Executive Officer, American Association for the Advancement of Science; Executive Publisher, Science
Alan Leshner is the chief executive officer of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and executive publisher of the journal Science. Before this position, Leshner was director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse at the National Institutes of Health. He also served as deputy director and acting director of the National Institute of Mental Health, and in several roles at the National Science Foundation. Before joining the government, Leshner was professor of psychology at Bucknell University. He also has held visiting appointments at the Wisconsin Regional Primate Research Center; and as a Fulbright Scholar at the Weizmann Institute of Science. Leshner is an elected fellow of AAAS, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the National Academy of Public Administration, and many other professional societies. He is a member and served on the governing council of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies of Science. He was appointed by President Bush to the National Science Board in 2004, and then reappointed by President Obama in 2011. Leshner received PhD and MS degrees in Physiological Psychology from Rutgers University and an AB in Psychology from Franklin and Marshall College. He has been awarded six honorary Doctor of Science degrees.

About the Respondents:
Heather Gonzalez, Specialist in Science and Technology Policy, Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress
Heather Gonzalez’s work at the Congressional Research Service (CRS) focuses on the National Science Foundation; Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education; and the America COMPETES Act. Her current research interests also include innovation in educational technologies. Before joining CRS, Gonzalez spent over a decade serving the U.S. Congress and California State Legislature in legislative staff positions. While with the California State Legislature, Gonzalez was principal consultant to three select committees. She focused on various education, budget, and science and technology policy issues while serving those committees. She also served as assistant secretary of the Division of Science, Technology, and Innovation at the California Technology, Trade, and Commerce Agency, and as a California fellow with the New America Foundation. She taught courses on U.S. government and women in politics at Sacramento City College. Gonzalez graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of California, Santa Cruz, with a bachelor's degree in Anthropology, and holds a master's degree in Public Policy from the School of Public Policy at Pepperdine University.

Lillian Lowery, Superintendent of Schools, Maryland Department of Education
In 2012, the Maryland State Board of Education appointed Lillian Lowery to take the helm of the nation’s number-one ranked state school system. As Maryland State superintendent of schools, Lowery is working to take Maryland’s education system to the next level—implementing the initiatives of the state’s third wave of education reform, supported by the federal Race to the Top (RTTT) grant. Prior to coming to Maryland, Lowery was appointed secretary of education for the State of Delaware, where she facilitated a statewide strategic planning and grant application process, which resulted in Delaware being selected as the “First State” awarded the RTTT grant to put aggressive systemic education reform in practice. Lowery’s career in education began in middle school as an English teacher in North Carolina and Virginia, moving into high school and subsequently serving as a high school assistant principal, a minority student achievement monitor, a high school principal, an assistant superintendent in Fairfax County Public Schools, and a superintendent of Christina School District in Delaware. As superintendent of the Christina School District, she enhanced the educational programs of students, improving student achievement, and administering district policies for a K–12 district, where approximately 15 percent of students spoke a language other than English at home. Lowery identified and closed a $17.5 million year-over-year fiscal deficit and led the district back to solvency. She was a fellow in the Broad Foundation’s Urban Superintendents Academy in 2004. Her awards include Second Mile Award, 2008, University of Delaware; Junior Achievement Award, 2007, Wilmington, Del.; Outstanding Service Award, 2006, Fairfax County Public Schools Board of Education; Mayor’s Service Award, 2002, City of Fairfax, Va.; Outstanding Service Award and Proclamation, 2002, City of Fairfax School Board; Outstanding School Representative, 2002, Fairfax Youth Community Alliance; and Citizenship Award, 2001, City of Fairfax Police Department. Lowery received her DEd in Education and Policy Studies from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, an MEd in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, and a BA in English Education from North Carolina Central University.

James Pellegrino, Professor and co-Director of Learning Sciences Research Institute, University of Illinois at Chicago
James Pellegrino’s work is focused on analyses of STEM learning and instructional environments with the goal of better understanding the nature of student learning and the conditions that enhance deep understanding. He also serves on technical advisory committees (TAC) overseeing state assessment programs, as well as the state consortia funded under the Race to the Top assessment initiative (SBAC, PARCC, DLM, and NCSC). Pellegrino has received multiple grants from the National Science Foundation and Institute of Education Sciences for projects focused on STEM education across K–16, including leadership of a major NSF-funded project to redesign Advanced Placement courses and exams in biology, chemistry, and physics. He has headed several National Academy of Science/National Research Council study committees focused on issues of teaching, learning, and assessment. Pellegrino chaired the Study Committee on the Foundations of Assessment and the Study Committee on Deeper Learning and 21st Century Skills. He currently co-chairs the Study Committee on Developing Assessments of Science Proficiency in K–12. He was a member of the Study Committee on Test Design for K–12 Science Achievement; the Study Committee on Science Learning: Games, Simulations and Education; and the Study Committee on Conceptual Framework for New Science Education Standards. He is a fellow of AERA, a past member of the NRC Board on Testing and Assessment, and an elected member of the National Academy of Education. Pellegrino received his BA from Colgate University and his PhD in Experimental and Quantitative Psychology from the University of Colorado.