The Trump Administration announced today a new five-year plan for STEM Education. The strategic plan, named “Charting A Course for Success: America’s Strategy for STEM Education,” calls for building a strong foundation in STEM literacy in American students; increasing diversity, equity, and inclusion in STEM for historically underserved and underrepresented groups; and preparing students for the STEM workforce of the future. Strategic partnerships with industry and nongovernmental groups are planned to be a part of the initiative’s funding.
This plan is a government-wide strategy, which is built on four “pathways representing a cross-cutting set of approaches.” Those pathways are:
- “Develop and enrich strategic partnerships,” to focus on, “strengthening existing relationships and developing new connections between educational institutions, employers, and their communities.”
- “Engage Students where Disciplines Converge,” to make STEM education more meaningful for students by exposing them to real-world problems and figuring out solutions.
- “Build Computational Literacy,” to, “advance computational thinking as a critical skill for today’s world.”
- And, “Operate with Transparency and Accountability,” which, “commits the Federal Government to open, evidence-based practices and decision-making in STEM programs, investments, and activities.”
As shown above, computational thinking and computer science are featured prominently in the report. The main aim for both is to build digital literacy, and by extension computational literacy, in students so that they can better bring these skills into their careers and lives for the benefit of the nation. As stated in the report, “this pathway includes strategies for connecting people, accessing knowledge, and building high demand job skills.”
The report calls on Federal agencies engaged in STEM education, such as NSF, to collaborate to, “develop a consolidated implementation plan,” and to track the progress of STEM programs that are underway. It calls for deliver of this implementation plan with 120 days. No new federal funding is proposed in the strategy, though one could assume that will be a subject for the implementation report. This is a good first step to implementing a Federal STEM education plan and it’s another good example of the increased visibility of the computer science education community.