Race to the Top (RTTT) is a $4.35 billion competitive grant program funded by the U.S. Department of Education as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (U.S. Department of Education 2009). The program provides monetary incentives for states and school districts to create conditions for education innovation and reform that would significantly improve student achievement (particularly in mathematics and science), narrow learning gaps, increase high school graduation rates, and increase the number of students admitted to college. To achieve these outcomes, RTTT focuses on reform strategies in four core areas:
Since the launch of RTTT in 2009, a total of 18 states and the District of Columbia have won awards. In 2012, the Obama Administration launched an RTTT competition at the school district level. Known as Race to the Top–District, this program focuses on changes within schools and is targeted at supporting locally developed plans for improving classroom practices and resources. As of December 2012, the program made awards to 16 school districts across the nation. Additional information about RTTT is available at http://www2.ed.gov/programs/racetothetop/index.html.
In 2011, the National Research Council (NRC 2011) articulated three goals for K–12 STEM education:
The NRC concluded that realizing these goals would require changing the way that STEM subjects are taught. Accordingly, the NRC recommended that the United States needs to systematically monitor national progress toward achieving these goals and commissioned a group of experts to develop indicators that, taken together, could constitute a viable monitoring system. This system will be based on recommendations from national reports that provide evidence supporting “best practices.” The NRC recently released a report that identifies 14 indicators for monitoring progress in STEM teaching and learning (NRC 2012b). Once fully developed, this system of indicators will measure student knowledge, interest, and participation in the STEM disciplines and STEM-related activities; track financial, human capital, and material investments in K–12 STEM education at the federal, state, and local levels; provide information about the capabilities of the STEM education workforce, including teachers and principals; and facilitate strategic planning for federal investments in STEM education and workforce development when used with labor force projections.
Working closely with the U.S. Department of Education, NSF has also undertaken several activities to build the proposed system of indicators. These activities include the following:
The major national studies of student academic performance include only partial data on nonschool factors that can affect student learning. Nonschool factors often available from the major national studies used in this chapter include student’s demographic characteristics (e.g., sex and race and ethnicity) and family backgrounds (e.g., family income, parental education, and the primary home language). Other nonschool factors such as personality traits, health and nutrition, and neighborhood characteristics matter for learning as well, but they are relatively difficult to measure and therefore rarely covered in the national studies on education and student achievement.
Research on nonschool factors dates back to the 1966 release of the report Equality of Educational Opportunity (Coleman et al. 1966), which examined the interrelationships among race and ethnicity, family characteristics, and student achievement. The authors of this report concluded that students’ socioeconomic background (measured by parents’ income, occupation, and education) was a far more influential factor than were school-related factors. Since then, this line of research has evolved, adding such familial factors as household structure, immigrant status, the primary home language, parenting style, and parental involvement and support as having an impact on student achievement. The findings of this research are generally consistent: students from low-income families, those whose parents have lower levels of educational attainment or are uninvolved in their children’s education, and those who live in a single-parent household or a home where the primary language spoken is not English generally do not perform as well as students from more advantaged backgrounds (Aud, Fox, and KewalRamani 2010; Berliner 2009; Campbell et al. 2008; Hampden-Thompson and Johnston 2006; Jeynes 2005; Kreider and Ellis 2011; Lareau 2011; Lee and Burkham 2002; Mulligan, Halle, and Kinukawa 2012; Pong, Dronkers, and Hampden-Thompson 2003; Rothstein 2004; Schmid 2001; Spera 2005; Stockton 2011). Research further indicates that differential access to high-quality preschool care and programs, which is highly related to parental income, is a contributing factor to initial academic achievement gaps (Camilli et al. 2010; Chambers et al. 2010; Flanagan and McPhee 2009).
To attempt to explain more of the variation in student achievement, researchers also turned to personality traits, exploring whether and how attributes like perseverance, motivation, self-control, self-efficacy, and social skills contribute to students’ academic achievement (Almlund et al. 2011; Bozick and Dempsey 2010; Dalton 2010; Duckworth et al. 2007; Heckman and Kautz 2012; Lennon 2010a, 2010b; McClelland, Acock, and Morrison 2006; Pintrich and de Groot 1990; Schunk 1981; Snyder 2001; Tough 2012; Walls and Little 2005; Webster-Stratton and Reid 2004). Though not conclusive, cumulative evidence points to persistence, motivation to learn and achieve, the ability to delay gratification and aim for long-term goals, belief in one’s ability to accomplish academic tasks, and the ability to self-regulate and use self-control as being positively associated with achievement measures such as standardized test scores, grades, and high school completion.
Researchers have also examined the effects of health-related factors on student learning (Berliner 2009; Castelli et al. 2007; Chernoff et al. 2007; Conti, Heckman, and Urzua 2010; Daniels et al. 2005; Hack et al. 2002; Nihiser et al. 2007; Rothstein 2010; Stockton 2011). Low birth weight, unhealthy eating, malnutrition, environmental pollution, inadequate medical/dental/vision care, and exposure to stress and discord at home can induce a variety of physical, sociological, and psychological problems, ranging from neurological damage and attention disorders to excessive absenteeism, linguistic underdevelopment, and oppositional behavior. These problems, in turn, can adversely affect student learning outcomes.
Finally, the effects of children’s home life on academic achievement can be influenced by neighborhood characteristics such as the unemployment rate, concentration of poverty, incidence of violence and gang activities, and rates of mobility and homelessness (Ainsworth 2002; Berliner 2009; Rothstein 2010). Research indicates that students living in impoverished or unsafe communities have a higher frequency of developmental and health problems than do those from more affluent or safe communities, even after controlling for family conditions, and those developmental and health problems, in turn, are associated with such academic outcomes as low test scores and dropping out of school (Arneshensal and Sucoff 1996; Brooks-Gunn et al. 1993; Catsambis and Beveridge 2001; Garner and Raudenbush 1991; Wickrama, Noh, and Bryant 2005).
A shelf is 240 cm long. Chris is putting boxes on the shelf. Each box takes up 20 cm of shelf space. Which of these number sentences shows how many boxes Chris can fit on the shelf?
|A. 240 – 20||C. 240 + 20|
|B. 240 ÷ 20||D. 240 x 20|
A ribbon is tied to a pole to measure the wind strength as shown below.
Write the numbers 1, 2, 3, and 4 in the correct order that shows the wind strength from the strongest to weakest.
Answer: 3, 4, 1, 2
Which of these is equal to 2(x+y) – (2x-y)?
|A. 3y||C. 4x + 3y|
|B. y||D. 4x + 2y|
The diagram below shows Earth’s water cycle.
What is the source of energy for the water cycle?
|A. The Moon||C. The tides|
|B. The Sun||D. The wind|
The above math and science sample questions come directly from http://timssandpirls.bc.edu/timss2011/downloads/TIMSS2011_Frameworks.pdf.
To provide a clear and consistent framework of the skills and knowledge students must master in grades K–12, the National Governors Association (NGA) Center for Best Practices, the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) and Achieve Inc. coordinated a state-led effort to develop the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) in English language arts and mathematics (NGA/CCSSO 2010). The standards aim to ensure that all students have “the academic knowledge and skills in literacy and mathematics needed to qualify for and succeed in entry-level, credit-bearing postsecondary coursework or postsecondary job training” (Achieve 2012).
The CCSS were developed through a rigorous drafting and review process involving three workgroups (NGA/CCSSO 2010). One workgroup, composed of experts in assessment, curriculum design, cognitive development, and child development, drafted the standards. A second group, including business representatives and classroom educators as well as scholars, revised that draft, and a validation committee of education scholars, teachers, and other experts evaluated the final draft. Leaders of the initiative then solicited opinions from other experts who had not been consulted in earlier stages and released this draft for public comment. The standards writers reviewed the nearly 10,000 comments from the public and revised the standards before the final version was published in June 2010. As of August 2013, 45 states and the District of Columbia have formally adopted the CCSS (http://www.corestandards.org).
In a recent survey, school superintendents agreed that the CCSS are more rigorous than previous standards and will improve students’ English language arts and math skills (Kober and Rentner 2012). The superintendents also noted that implementing the CCSS will require substantial changes in curriculum and instruction. Whereas the majority of the participating states hoped to implement the standards fully by the 2014–15 school year, many superintendents expressed concern about having sufficient resources for such large-scale change. To assist implementation efforts, two state consortia, the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers and Smarter Balanced Assessment, received federal grants to create assessment systems based on the standards. Both consortia will administer these assessments in 2014–15.
In addition to the CCSS in English language arts and mathematics, Achieve Inc. has worked with the National Research Council (NRC), the National Science Teachers Association, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and 26 states to develop K–12 science standards (http://nextgenscience.org). The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) are based on the Framework for K–12 Science Education, which identifies broad ideas and practices in the natural sciences and engineering that all students should be familiar with by the time they graduate from high school (NRC 2012a). Following a rigorous development and review process for the NGSS, similar to that followed for the mathematics and English language arts standards, science educators and experts released an initial draft, which they revised substantially after receiving public comments. The final draft was released in April 2013, and states are now considering adoption of the standards.
The 2012 National Survey of Science and Mathematics Education provides information about school AP course offerings (Banilower et al. 2013). In 2012, AP calculus AB and AP biology were the most widely accessible courses in high schools, available to 81% and 74% of high school students, respectively (figure
The least accessible courses were AP calculus BC in math and AP physics C in science, available to 47% and 25% of high school students, respectively. The number of AP mathematics and science courses offered varied by school characteristics. For example, the largest schools offered an average of two AP mathematics courses and three AP science courses, whereas the smallest schools offered about one AP mathematics and one AP science course (
As of August 2013, 26 funders have pledged more than 152 million toward the work of 100Kin10 partner organizations. More than 150 partner organizations have been selected to participate and have currently committed to training 40,000 STEM teachers by 2016. More information about 100Kin10 and current partners can be found at http://www.100kin10.org/.
National Science Foundation |
National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics (NCSES) |
Previous Releases |
Science and Engineering Indicators 2014 Arlington, VA (NSB 14-01) | February 2014