ADMINISTRATION AND AGENCY UPDATES AND NEWS
STEM Advisory Panel Holds Bi-Annual Meeting
This month, the federal STEM Advisory Panel held one of its bi-annual meetings. The STEM Advisory Panel was jointly formed by the U.S. Department of Education, the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in 2017 in response to the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act to help identify the need or opportunity to update the Federal STEM Education Strategic Plan. The panel is made up of members from academic institutions, non-profits, and industry who provide advice and information on STEM education research, development, training, implementation, interventions, professional development or workforce needs or concerns.
The advisory panel focused largely on the federal response to COVID-19 and the pandemic’s impacts on STEM education. The panelists brainstormed ways to make STEM education resources accessible to students and parents, how to transition federal STEM internships from in-person to remote experiences, how to provide internet access to students who do not have it, and how best to keep STEM connected to industry to understand their needs as the pandemic impacts the workforce.
Dr. Cindy Hasselbring was introduced as the new Assistant Direct for STEM Education at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and the panel discussed Dr. Kelvin Droegemeier’s appointment as Interim Director of NSF until Dr. Sethuraman Panchanathan is able to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate. Finally, the advisory panel announced they are accepting recommendations for membership. Additional information regarding materials to be submitted with a recommendation is available here.
Regional Educational Laboratories COVID-19 Remote Learning Strategies and Best Practices
The U.S Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences funds a network of 10 Regional Educational Laboratories (REL), and in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, all RELs have collaborated to produce evidence-based resources and guidance about learning remotely. On April 14, the Mid Atlantic REL conducted a webinar titled “Leaning Remotely in the Age of COVID-19: Lessons from Evidence and Concerns for Equity.” The webinar hosted by Heather Bennet, Felicia Hurwitz, and Steven Malick, highlighted approaches to addressing equity concerns magnified due to remote learning and developed a framework for informed decision making for educators as they respond to the needs of their students. School systems around the nation are incorporating different models for instruction, and it is imperative to acknowledge that literature reports synchronous learning is the best practice going forward. The webinar shows that some of the positive impacts include feedback, tutoring and support strategies, project-based learning, and an increase in contingency planning. Research also suggests that the achievement gap will likely widen as disadvantaged students have difficulty with access to devices, connectivity and instruction. Additional information about all RELs COVID-19 evidence-based resources is available here.
Open Grant Competitions at ED
Institute of Education Sciences NCER and NCSER Grant Competitions Announced
The U.S. Department of Education ‘s (ED) Institute of Education Sciences (IES) has announced its fiscal year (FY) 2021 competitions for education research and special education research. IES plans to host eight competitions in FY 2021 that address a range of relevant topic areas, including research related to STEM education and Career and Technical education, two topics of interest to policymakers, agency officials, and the Trump Administration. The awards will be administered through the Institute’s major grant-awarding centers, the National Center for Education Research (NCER) and the National Center for Special Education Research (NCSER). NCER will administer four competitions: Education Research, Education Research Training, Education Research and Development Centers, and Research Grants Focused on Systemic Replication in Education. NCSER will administer four competitions: Special Education Research, Research Training Programs in Special Education, Research Grants Focused on NAEP Process Data for Learners with Disabilities, and Research Grants Focused on Systemic Replication. Applications for all competitions will become available on June 11, 2020, and will be due August 20, 2020. Project periods and funding levels are dependent on competition. Additional information, including required application topics for each competition, are available here.
Mid-phase Education Innovation and Research (EIR) Grant
The Department of Education (ED) announced their call for fiscal year (FY) 2020 Education Innovation and Research (EIR) Mid-Phase grants, to support efforts by educational systems to create, implement, and evaluate innovative, evidence-based solutions to academic challenges facing high-need students and is designed to generate and validate solutions to persistent education challenges. For EIR Mid-Phase proposals should expand the use of practices with prior evidence of effectiveness in order to improve outcomes, with this competition including priority areas of promoting STEM education and building skills to “Prepare Students to be Informed, Thoughtful, and Productive Individuals and Citizens.”
Applications are due June 15, 2020. ED intents to make 16-20 awards of up to $8 million each in FY 2020. Of note, state education agencies (SEAs), local education agencies (LEAs), non-profit organizations (including institutions of higher education (IHEs) that can document its nonprofit status), and the Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) are eligible to apply. Any IHE may apply as part of a consortium led by a SEA, LEA, or the BIE. The notice inviting applications is available here.
Supporting Effective Educator Development (SEED) Grant
In April, ED also announced the FY 2020 competition of the Supporting Effective Educator Development (SEED) grant program, to support the implementation of “evidence-based practices to prepare, develop, or enhance the skills of educators” across the continuum of educators’ careers. This competition includes priority areas of STEM education, social and emotional learning (SEL) practices, and serving educators serving in Qualified Opportunity Zones. Higher Education institutions that can offer “course materials or resources that are evidence-based in increasing academic achievement, graduation rates, or rates of postsecondary education matriculation” and other organizations are eligible to apply. Applications are due June 12, 2020. Further details are available here.