Policy ForumScience Education

Will latest U.S. law lead to successful schools in STEM?

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Science  16 Sep 2016:
Vol. 353, Issue 6305, pp. 1209-1211
DOI: 10.1126/science.aah4037

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Remarkably, after a long delay, the U.S. Congress passed and President Obama signed in late 2015 a new version of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, the law that since 1965 has staked out the federal government's commitment to education from kindergarten to 12th grade (K-12). This version, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), replaces the controversial version known as No Child Left Behind (NCLB) (1, 2). With ESSA scheduled to take full effect in fall 2017, states are now in planning mode. What changes are in store for schooling in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM)? Although Congress sought advice on this topic, few changes in ESSA reflect new knowledge on STEM. Yet the law provides opportunities for improvement if states choose to act.