State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today announced the creation of a Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Task Force to look at how to improve learning and engage more students in scientific and technical fields, widely considered a key to the state’s economic future.
“California has always led the way in science and technology—and our future success depends on fostering an interest in these fields among our students,” Torlakson said. “Our classrooms are filled with the leaders of tomorrow, and we need to give them every opportunity to reach their potential.”
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The STEM Task Force will be co-chaired by Herb Brunkhorst, Ph.D., Chair of the Department of Science, Mathematics, and Technology Education at California State University, San Bernardino; and Susan Hackwood, Ph.D., Executive Director of the California Council on Science and Technology.
The Task Force’s volunteer members will be charged with exploring the status of STEM education in California’s curriculum, instructional practices, professional development for teachers, student testing, existing infrastructure, and partnerships with the community and business. The Task Force members will then assess the state’s future needs, as well as recommend a blueprint on how to improve teaching, learning, and equal access to STEM-related courses and careers for students in kindergarten through grade twelve.
The resultant blueprint will provide guidance on ways to include career technical education, and newly developed national Common Core State Standards and Next Generation Science Standards in California’s kindergarten through grade twelve classrooms. A “standard” is defined as the knowledge, concepts, and skills that students should acquire at each grade level.
A 2011 U.S. Department of Commerce study, “STEM: Good Jobs Now and For the Future,” found that over the past 10 years, growth in jobs involving STEM fields was three times greater than that of non-STEM occupations. The report also forecast that STEM jobs are expected to continue to grow at a faster rate than others in the coming decade. STEM-related industries are a major economic component in California’s economy.