U.S. Department of Education Launches New Initiative to Enhance STEM Education for All Students


Teacher development and partnerships with external organizations are key elements.

DECEMBER 7, 2022

Contact:   Press Office, (202) 401-1576, [email protected]

    Today, the U.S. Department of Education (Department) will host the YOU Belong in STEM National Coordinating Conference in Washington, D.C. as a key initiative for the Biden-Harris Administration. The Raise the Bar: STEM Excellence for All Students initiative is designed to strengthen Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education nationwide. This new Biden-Harris Administration initiative will help implement and scale equitable, high-quality STEM education for all students from PreK to higher education—regardless of background— to ensure their 21st century career readiness and global competitiveness.

    “Research shows how a sense of belonging in rich and rigorous classrooms is directly correlated to students’ long-term academic success. Moreover, the Department’s Civil Rights Data Collection continues to demonstrate that students of color and students with disabilities are disproportionately excluded from learning opportunities in STEM,” said U.S. Deputy Secretary of Education Cindy Marten. “Today, we are saying unequivocally to all students and educators that they belong in STEM and that they deserve to have rigorous and relevant educational experiences that inspire and empower them to reach their full potential as productive, contributing members of our nation’s workforce.”

    The new initiative unites government, nonprofits, professional organizations, industries, philanthropies, and other community stakeholders to take bold action towards breaking down long-standing barriers for student success in the STEM fields. With the support of $120 billion dollars dedicated to K-12 education in the American Rescue Plan (ARP) and all other federal education funds, the Department is galvanizing the broader education ecosystem to prioritize three goals for STEM education:

    • Ensure all students from PreK to higher education excel in rigorous, relevant, and joyful STEM learning.
    • Develop and support our STEM educators to join, grow, and stay in the STEM field.
    • Invest in STEM education strategically and sufficiently using ARP and other federal, state, and local funds.

    These goals provide strategic direction for the Department’s STEM-related efforts to meet the most pressing needs of students and educators. Further, through this initiative, the Department calls on all states, districts, schools, and STEM-connected organizations and industries to make specific, tangible commitments aligned to these goals to provide all students with the experiences and resources they need to succeed in STEM and in life.

    In support of the initiative and its goals, the Department has:

    • Published a Dear Colleague Letter to state and district leaders outlining how federal education funds can be used to enhance STEM teaching and learning.
    • Announced a partnership with Beyond100K through an MOU. Beyond100K will partner with the Department to identify the key challenges to fully staffing schools with STEM teachers who reflect the diversity of their students and create classrooms of belonging. Beyond100K will also partner with the Department and other stakeholders to better understand and predict the supply and demand of STEM teachers at the state and local levels. Additionally, Beyond100K will co-sponsor a series of national communities of practices to support states, school districts, and other education organizations in developing and implementing innovative solutions to the STEM educator shortage and improve equitable access to high-quality STEM instruction for all students, especially those most excluded from STEM opportunity.

    Additionally, over 90 public and private sector organizations from across the country have made specific commitments to enhance STEM education. These commitments range from local grassroots efforts to initiatives that are national in scope. Several excerpts of example commitments include:

    • Data Science for Everyone will assist 100+ school districts to leverage ARP and other funds for piloting and scaling data science education programs, impacting approximately 200,000 students, with a priority on serving Title I (~30%) and rural (~30%) communities; will launch working groups in 10 states to expand teacher training pathways into emerging technology education; will launch a research and development campaign for students with disabilities and other learning differences to engage in data science education by 2025.  
    • DiscoverE will create 10 million K-12 engineering experiences, 5 million of which will serve girls and underrepresented students.
    • New York Hall of Science, through its STEM Equity Initiative, will engage over 300 three- and four-year-old students each year from the Corona community of Queens, New York, in its STEM-themed preschool through PreK program.
    • Smithsonian Science Education Center at the Smithsonian Institute will provide professional development to over 100 K-12 STEM educators on Universal Design for Learning in STEM classrooms and on culturally based pedagogy in STEM classrooms; will also support 20 education entities representing over 10,000 STEM teachers with the goal of ensuring a diverse STEM teacher pipeline.
    • STEM Next Opportunity Fund will expand the portfolios of Million Girls Moonshot partners to include local and regional STEM intermediaries and direct youth-serving organizations by investing an additional $1.5 million a year through 2025 to the existing $4 million planned; also by 2025 they will invest $8 million in developing a research agenda to increase public awareness of out-of-school time as a critical component of ensuring a sense of belonging for youth in STEM.

    A full list of the organizations can be found here.

    The YOU Belong in STEM National Coordinating Conference will welcome more than 200 STEM stakeholders from 30 states and territories in the Department’s Lyndon B. Johnson building in Washington, D.C. Participants will collaborate and learn about the importance of belonging in STEM, connect with students and educators about their experiences in STEM education, and develop new partnerships and commitments. We invite you to join us virtually for the opening (9 a.m. ET – 12:15 p.m. ET) and closing (4 p.m. ET – 4:45 p.m. ET) plenary sessions.

    Today’s actions and conference build on the progress school communities have made this year in helping students and families recover from the pandemic, as they respond to President Biden’s call to enlist 250,000 adult volunteers to support student success. This past summer, the Department launched two national initiatives—the National Partnership for Student Success (NPSS) and Engage Every Student — that focus on innovative ways to engage students and schools and support academic achievement and student wellness.

    More information on the Raise the Bar: STEM Excellence for All Students initiative can be found here.

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