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NSF & Congress

Hearing Summary - Cora Marrett Testifies at House Hearing on Federal Science and Engineering Education Programs

June 6, 2007

On Wednesday, June 6, 2007, NSF Education and Human Resources (EHR) Assistant Director Cora Marrett testified at a hearing to review the K-16 science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education activities of federal agencies. She, along with three other witnesses, appeared before the House Subcommittee on Research and Science Education. The witnesses spoke about how their respective agencies could best contribute to STEM education nationwide, including improving program evaluation as well as their collaboration with educators in the field.

The hearing was presided over by Rep. Jerry McNerney (D-CA) who opened the hearing by stating that, "As a mathematician, and someone who believes strongly in the need to expand educational opportunities for the next generation, today's hearing holds particular importance for me." He later added that "one of the most important aspects of any discussion on STEM education is how we can reach more students and make sure that the United States is not only keeping up with the rest of the world, but outpacing other countries."

Subcommittee Ranking Member Vernon J. Ehlers (R-MI) noted that the hearing would be "laying the groundwork for how to maximize the benefit of existing programs, which will invariably improve future initiatives."

Marrett provided the Subcommittee with examples of the Foundation's interagency collaborations, including recent conferences and workshops, and discussed the re-constituted National Science and Technology Council (NSTC) subcommittee.

"NSF will work with other agencies to evaluate and disseminate information about STEM-related programs," said Marrett. "For us, effectiveness is indicated in no small part by the connections we establish and maintain with researchers and educators as well as with agencies and organizations that share our commitment to excellence in STEM education."

Marrett also stated, "NSF's EHR programs require project and program evaluations, and there is now greater emphasis on collecting evaluation information at the start of a program."

She also highlighted publications from the National Academy of Sciences that serve to disseminate the results from NSF-investments. Among these: the path-breaking volumes, Adding it Up: Helping Children Learn Mathematics and Taking Science to School.

In closing, Marrett reiterated to the Congressional Subcommittee that NSF would not rest on past achievements or accolades. Rather, the agency would continue to strive to foster and tap the creativity our nation needs for the success of our citizenry in the years ahead.

Rep. Ehlers responded to Marrett and other witnesses’ testimonies by suggesting ways that federal STEM programs could align their goals with those of educators on a state and local level. He said teachers are often unable to locate the educational tools that they may want or need, and proposed a clearinghouse where teachers can access these materials and evaluate them.

Other witnesses included Dr. Joyce Winterton, Assistant Administrator of NASA's Office of Education; Mr. William Valdez, Director of the Office of Workforce Development for Teachers and Scientists at the Department of Energy’s Office of Science; and Dr. Bruce Fuchs, Director of the National Institutes of Health’s Office of Science Education.

-- Katherine Gomer, Caitlyn Kennedy, Sarah Miller, and Danielle Hill

See also:

  • NSF Education and Human Resources Assistant Director Cora Marrett's Testimony