STEM Smart Briefs

The following briefs outline research related to challenges and recommendations for K-12 STEM education as highlighted in the National Research Council reports, Successful K-12 STEM Education and Monitoring Progress Toward Successful K-12 STEM Education.


“Providing a richness of resources unavailable in any classroom, informal science institutions across the country have developed exemplary partnerships with public schools—and have room for more.” Read this brief to explore how out-of-school learning can complement and enhance what is being taught in the classroom.
Workers in STEM fields play a direct role in driving economic growth. Yet, because of how the STEM economy has been defined, policymakers have mainly focused on supporting workers with at least a bachelor’s degree, overlooking a strong potential workforce of those with less than a BA.
“Engineering is taught only sporadically in K-12 schools, despite growing evidence that engaging in engineering education leads to improved student learning and achievement in mathematics and science, in part by connecting these subjects to real-world problems.” Read this brief to learn more about the increasing efforts to integrate engineering into the K-12 curriculum.
“For effective K–12 STEM instruction to become the norm, schools and districts must be transformed.” Read this brief to learn more about curriculum and instructional methods that engage students in the learning process.
Current data on school readiness and early math and science achievement indicate we are not giving young children the support they need to be “STEM Smart".
“Recent research emphasizes that teacher quality alone cannot improve student achievement at scale. School leadership, staff collaboration, and a positive climate are among essential organizational elements that contribute to meaningful change.” Read this brief to learn more about suggested methods for properly supporting STEM educators.
“The majority of U.S. students, particularly low-income and minority youth, lacks foundational skills and knowledge in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.” Read this brief to find out more about the efforts that are making change across the nation.
“When students from non-mainstream backgrounds receive equitable learning opportunities, they are capable of attaining science outcomes comparable to their mainstream peers. The same is true for mathematics and, presumably, for other STEM subjects, as well.” Read this brief to dive further into what can be done to improve the academic achievement of students from all backgrounds.
“Specialized schools still represent a tiny fraction of U.S. public education. However, they may not only produce better results than traditional programs; they also can serve as models for schools seeking to improve.” Read this brief to investigate further into what we can learn from specialized STEM-focused learning institutions.
This brief gives an overview—and by no means a comprehensive one—of several NGSS-aligned projects in the areas of curriculum, instruction, assessment, and professional development.