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How Much Will RTT3 Benefit STEM Education?

By guest blogger Stephen Sawchuk

All seven states that qualified for the third round of the federal Race to the Top competition have won a share in the $200 million remaining, and all of them will be expected to address STEM fields.

The question on the table is just how far these changes are going to go where STEM is concerned. Remember, states primarily will use this money to implement part of their original Race to the Top plans—which means making progress in one of the core areas of the economic-stimulus legislation, such as raising standards, improving evaluation systems, or turning around low-performing schools. They don't actually have to spend it explicitly on STEM programming.

A summary document by the Education Department contains a few more details on what states plan to spend their cash on.

Some of the states, such as Arizona, plan to focus on STEM as they transition to the Common Core State Standards. Louisiana, the department says, has "embedded" STEM throughout its reform work. Illinois envisions a "public-private infrastructure" to support STEM integration across the curriculum, while Colorado and Kentucky will build on existing STEM efforts.

As you may be aware, the fiscal 2012 budget provided $500 million for an additional round of Race to the Top. So far, Secretary Arne Duncan hasn't indicated whether this competition will support early education or K-12 reforms. But, in a conference call with reporters, he did hint that STEM would probably remain a focus area. "We'll probably continue to have that since we have so far to go in the STEM areas," he said.

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