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NSF, Education Department Build Closer STEM Ties

As my colleague Erik Robelen reported over at Curriculum Matters, the Senate has finally confirmed Massachusetts Institute of Technology engineering dean Subra Suresh to lead the National Science Foundation. For education watchers, this means we might start to see some real action on an interagency strategy for STEM (or science, technology, engineering and math) education research, which has been in the works for a while now.

Cora B. Marrett, until now the acting NSF director, told Institute for Education Sciences officials and advisory board members that NSF, the Education Department, the National Institutes of Health, and the President's Council of Advisers on Science and Technology have had some difficulty coordinating inter-agency strategies. "We're committed to integration of education and STEM," she said, but "how do we ever get the heads of these organizations together? How do you figure out who within them is responsible [for STEM education]? We don't have a single unit responsible for aggregating, bringing together the different experiences of the agencies."

NSF has already made a start. Though still without an assistant director, the agency's education directorate has just put out a new request for proposals on collaborative interdisciplinary research in education issues. "We're looking at how to bring the disciplinary based work to the more general work on the science of learning," Ms. Marrett said.

The directorate's advisory board will have its next meeting Nov. 3-4 in Arlington, Va.; it has not yet released a final agenda.

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