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NSF 2012 Science & Engineering Indicators Are Now Available

The National Science Foundation's National Science Board has released the 2012 edition of its biennial compilation of U.S. science and engineering indicators and trends. This year's release includes an interactive tool to view state S&E data and a separate digest with 30 key data points for evaluating U.S. progress. While the U.S. still leads the world in many of these key metrics, developing countries appear to have made significant strides in S&E competitiveness, according to the report. Additional data will be available after February 15.

Download Chapter 1. Elementary and Secondary Mathematics and Science Education at link below:

New Report Outlines Trends in U.S. Global Competitiveness in Science and Technology

Asian countries are rapidly closing ranks on U.S. leadership

January 17, 2012

The United States remains the global leader in supporting science and technology (S&T) research and development, but only by a slim margin that could soon be overtaken by rapidly increasing Asian investments in knowledge-intensive economies. So suggest trends released in a new report by the National Science Board (NSB), the policymaking body for the National Science Foundation (NSF), on the overall status of the science, engineering and technology workforce, education efforts and economic activity in the United States and abroad.

"This information clearly shows we must re-examine long-held assumptions about the global dominance of the American science and technology enterprise," said NSF Director Subra Suresh of the findings in the Science and Engineering Indicators 2012 released today. "And we must take seriously new strategies for education, workforce development and innovation in order for the United States to retain its international leadership position," he said.

Suresh oversees NSF's $7 billion dollar budget, which is awarded to the federal agency by Congress and funds basic research and education across all fields of science and engineering, including some 15 percent of federally supported basic research conducted at America's colleges and universities.

According to the new Indicators 2012, the largest global S&T gains occurred in the so-called "Asia-10"--China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan and Thailand--as those countries integrate S&T into economic growth. Between 1999 and 2009, for example, the U.S. share of global research and development (R&D) dropped from 38 percent to 31 percent, whereas it grew from 24 percent to 35 percent in the Asia region during the same time.

In China alone, R&D growth increased a stunning 28 percent in a single year (2008-2009), propelling it past Japan and into second place behind the United States.

"Over the last decade, the world has changed dramatically," said José-Marie Griffiths, chair of the NSB committee that oversees production of the report. "It's now a world with very different actors who have made advancement in science and technology a top priority. And many of the troubling trends we're seeing are now very well established."

In 2009, President Obama released A Strategy for American Innovation, which recognized the importance of science and engineering as drivers of innovation and identified a strong fundamental research base as critical to innovation, economic growth and competitiveness.

"Maintaining our role as the world's engine of scientific discovery and technological innovation [is] absolutely essential to our future," the president said.

NSF has launched a number of new initiatives designed to better position the United States globally and at home by enhancing international collaborations, improving education and establishing new partnerships between NSF-supported researchers and those in industry, for example.

  • Science Across Virtual Institutes (SAVI) fosters interaction among scientists, engineers and educators around the globe. Because S&T excellence exists in many parts of the world, scientific advances can be accelerated when scientists and engineers work together across international borders. The Wireless Innovation Between Finland and the United States, for instance, provides a platform for building long-term research and education collaborations between the U.S. and Finland-two world leaders in wireless technology-who have formed a virtual institute to study dynamic radio spectrum access. SAVI collaborations are also underway between U.S. teams and researchers in India, Brazil, France, Germany, Israel, Singapore and the United Kingdom.
  • The NSF Innovation Corps (I-Corps) program, a public-private partnership, will connect NSF-funded scientific research with the technological, entrepreneurial and business communities to help create a stronger national ecosystem for innovation. NSF, the Deshpande Foundation, and the Kauffman Foundation are founding members along with a national network of advisors and partnering institutions. Technology developers, business leaders, venture capitalists and others from private industry will provide critical expertise to help transform scientific and engineering results into potentially successful technologies.
  • NSF investment in advanced manufacturing holds great potential for significant short-term and long-term economic impact by promising entirely new classes and families of products that were previously unattainable, including emerging opportunities in cyber-physical systems, advanced robotics, nano-manufacturing, and sensor- and model-based smart manufacturing.
  • Science, Engineering and Education for Sustainability, or (SEES), is a cross-disciplinary approach to sustainability science designed to spark innovations for tomorrow's clean energy. It will also improve our capabilities for rapid response to extreme events.

"NSF's support of fundamental research, which propels intellectual curiosity in every branch of science and engineering, and ignites the passion to uncover the inner workings of nature, is more precious now than ever before," Suresh said. "At the same time, scientific discoveries from fundamental research have their widest impact when they engender innovations, products and processes that transform society and help solve global challenges."


Media Contacts

Leslie Fink, NSF (703) 292-5395

Related Websites

A Strategy for American Innovation:

NSF FY2012 budget request speech:

Science and Engineering Indicators 2012 (available at noon on Jan. 18):

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering. In fiscal year (FY) 2011, its budget is about $6.9 billion. NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 universities and institutions. Each year, NSF receives over 45,000 competitive requests for funding, and makes over 11,500 new funding awards. NSF also awards over $400 million in professional and service contracts yearly.

Report Recommends Ways to Improve K-12 STEM Education, Calls on Policymakers

To Raise Science Education to Same Level of Importance as Math and Reading

WASHINGTON – State, national, and local policymakers should elevate science education in grades K-12 to the same level of importance as reading and mathematics, says a new report from the National Research Council.  The report recommends ways that leaders at all levels can improve K-12 education in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

The report responds to a request from Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.) for the National Science Foundation -- which sponsored the Research Council report -- to identify highly successful K-12 schools and programs in STEM fields.  

“A growing number of jobs -- not just those in professional science -- require knowledge of STEM fields,” said Adam Gamoran, chair of the committee that wrote the report and professor of sociology and educational policy studies at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.  “The goal isn’t only to have a capable and competitive work force.  We need to help all students become scientifically literate because citizens are increasingly facing decisions related to science and technology -- whether it’s understanding a medical diagnosis or weighing competing claims about the environment.”

The report identifies key elements of high-quality STEM education to which policymakers could target improvements:

  • A coherent set of standards and curriculum.  States and districts should have rigorous K-12 STEM standards and curricula that are focused on the most important topics in each discipline and presented as a sequence of content and practices that build knowledge over time. 

  • Teachers with high capacity to teach in their discipline.  Good teachers need to know both STEM content and how to teach it; many teachers are currently underprepared to teach STEM-related courses.  

  • A supportive system of assessment and accountability.  Current assessments limit educators’ ability to teach in ways that promote learning the content and understanding the practices of science and mathematics.

  • Adequate instructional time.  The average amount of time spent on science instruction in elementary classrooms has decreased in recent years even as the time on mathematics instruction has increased. This is likely due to the focus on math and English language arts in the No Child Left Behind Act.  

  • Equal access to high-quality STEM learning opportunities.  States and districts should strive to eliminate the disparities in access to high-quality STEM education between advantaged students and minority and low-income students, which contribute to the existing achievement gaps. 

  • School conditions and cultures that support learning.  Although teacher qualifications certainly matter, so do school conditions and culture -- such as school and district leadership and parent and community involvement. 

The report suggests that one way to elevate science to the same level of importance as mathematics and reading is to assess science subjects as frequently as is done for reading and math, using an assessment system that supports learning and understanding.  However, such a system is not yet available for science subjects, the report notes.  States and national organizations need to develop assessments that are aligned with the next generation of science standards -- which will be based on a framework to be released soon by the Research Council -- and that emphasize science practices rather than mere factual recall. 

National and state policymakers also should invest in helping educators in STEM fields teach more effectively, said the committee. For example, teachers should be able to pursue professional development through peer collaboration and professional learning communities, among other approaches. Schools and school districts should devote adequate instructional time and resources to science in grades K-5 to lay a foundation for further study, the report notes, as research suggests that interest in science careers may develop in the elementary school years. 

In addition to strengthening STEM education in traditional schools, districts seeking to improve student outcomes in STEM fields could also consider three types of specialty schools targeted to that goal: selective STEM schools, which are organized around these fields and have selective admissions criteria; inclusive STEM schools, which have the same focus but without selective admissions; and STEM-focused career and technical education programs, which allow students to explore practical applications of science and related career options. Although there is no solid evidence about which approach works best for different student populations, or whether these three types are superior to enhanced STEM education in traditional schools, there are promising findings that the three types can be models for further development of effective STEM instruction and learning. 

The study was sponsored by the National Science Foundation.  The National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, Institute of Medicine, and National Research Council make up the National Academies.  They are private, nonprofit institutions that provide science, technology, and health policy advice under a congressional charter.  The Research Council is the principal operating agency of the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering.  For more information, visit  A committee roster follows.

Pre-publication copies of Successful K-12 STEM Education: Identifying Effective Approaches in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics are available from the National Academies Press; tel. 202-334-3313 or 1-800-624-6242 or on the Internet at

New Report:

State Assessment Systems:

Exploring Best Practices and Innovations: Summary of Two Workshops 


Alexandra Beatty, Rapporteur; Committee on Best Practices for State Assessment Systems: Improving Assessment While Revisiting Standards; National Research Council

Authoring Organizations


Educators and policy makers in the United States have relied on tests to measure educational progress for more than 150 years, and have used the results for many purposes. They have tried minimum competency testing; portfolios; multiple-choice items, brief and ...

Read More online free or download the Pdf at:

The National Research Council (NRC) releases report on incentives and test-based accountability in education

Just released from the Board on Testing and Assessment the report, Incentives and Test-Based Accountability in Education, examines the effects of test-based incentive programs like No Child Left Behind, high school exit exams, teacher performance pay, and direct student rewards.  In recent decades, federal and state governments have increasingly relied on these types of programs as a way to raise accountability in public education and improve achievement. Though these programs differ from each other in many ways, they all use the same strategy of adding consequences to students’ test performance as a way of improving education.  The report looks across all the rigorous studies of these different incentive programs and concludes that they have not consistently generated positive effects on student achievement.

School-level incentives – like those of No Child Left Behind – produce some of the larger effects among the programs studied, but the gains are concentrated in elementary grade mathematics and are small in comparison with the improvements the nation hopes to achieve.  Evidence also suggests that high school exit exam programs, as implemented in many states, decrease the rate of high school graduation without increasing student achievement.

The report urges policymakers to support the development and evaluation of promising new models that use-test based incentives in more sophisticated ways as one aspect of a richer accountability and improvement process.  However, given the modest success of incentive programs to date, it is essential that all use of test-based incentives should be carefully studied to help determine which forms of incentives are successful.  In addition, continued experimentation with test-based incentives should not displace investment in the development of other aspects of the education system.

Sponsored by the Carnegie Corporation of New York and the Flora Hewlett Foundation, the report reviews and synthesizes relevant research from economics, psychology, education, and related fields about how incentives work in educational accountability systems. The report offers recommendations for how to improve current test-based accountability policies and highlights directions for further research.

The Journal - Transforming Education Through Technology

Return to Sender

Schools continue to deliver new graduates into the workplace lacking the tech-based "soft skills" that businesses demand. Experts blame K-12's persistent failure to integrate technology.

  • By Dan Gordon
  • 03/07/11

In the 2007 report "Maximizing the Impact: The Pivotal Role of Technology in a 21st Century Education System," a task force of leading employers, ed tech advocates, and educators concluded that schools were barely using technology, much less developing the tech skills needed of those entering the workplace.

"To a wireless nation," task force members wrote, "which relies on technology for ordinary tasks and extraordinary achievements, it is shocking and inconceivable--but true--that technology is marginalized in the complex and vital affairs of education."

The upshot of this neglect, the report goes on to say, is to leave students unsuited for a work environment in which knowing core subject content can be secondary to being able to use technology to demonstrate the so- called 21st century skills that employers now demand: "Even if all students mastered core academic subjects, they still would be woefully under prepared to succeed in post secondary institutions and workplaces, which increasingly value people who can use their knowledge to communicate, collaborate, analyze, create, innovate, and solve problems."

The report, published jointly by the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), the Partnership for 21st Century Skills, and the State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA), was a loud, disruptive clarion call to schools to move purposefully toward the use of technology to develop 21st century skills. More...

The National Board for Education Sciences, the advisory body to the Institute of Education Sciences (IES), announces the release of "National Board for Education Sciences: 5-Year Report, 2003 Through 2008".

The report includes an evaluation of the performance of IES, its recommendations regarding the reauthorization of the Education Sciences Reform Act, and recommendations for the improvement of IES.

* National Board for Education Sciences, 5-Year Report, 2003 Through 2008

* National Board for Education Sciences, 5-Year Report transmission letter

You can view, download, and print the reports at 

The National Board for Education Sciences (NBES), the advisory body to the Institute of Education Sciences, announces the release of the "What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) Expert Panel Report".

The NBES commissioned a panel to submit a report on a focused study addressing the fundamental question of the scientific validity of the Clearinghouse's evidence review process and reports. The report also contains recommendations where improvements are possible.

* National Board for Education Sciences, WWC Expert Panel Report

* National Board for Education Sciences, WWC Expert Panel Report transmission letter

* National Board for Education Sciences, WWC Expert Panel Report response letter from the IES Director

* National Board for Education Sciences, WWC Expert Panel Report response letter from the Principal Investigator for the WWC

You can view, download, and print the reports at 

The National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance's What Works Clearinghouse (WWC), has released three new quick reviews.

These reviews are designed to provide an objective assessment of the quality of research evidence from a research paper, article, or report whose public release is reported in a major national news source. Visit for more information.

See WWC reviews on the following studies:

* Promoting Broad and Stable Improvements in Low-Income Children's Numerical Knowledge Through Playing Number Board Games

This study looked at whether playing number board games improved numeric skills of low-income preschoolers.

* The Effect of Performance-Pay in Little Rock, Arkansas on Student Achievement

This study examined whether the Achievement Challenge Pilot Project, a performance-pay program for teachers, improved the academic achievement of elementary school students.

* Paying for A's: An Early Exploration of Student Reward and Incentive Programs in Charter Schools

This study investigated whether offering student reward and incentive programs in charter schools affects academic achievement.

As the WWC continues its work to connect educators with the tools needed to make informed decisions, visit the website often at and check your inbox for updates and new releases throughout the year.

The National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance within The Institute of Education Sciences has released two new Quick Review reports from the What Works Clearinghouse.

The Advantage of Abstract Examples in Learning Math

This study examined whether college students are better able to apply knowledge of simple mathematical concepts when they are taught the concepts using abstract symbols or concrete examples.

Making a Difference? The Effects of Teach for America in High School

This study examined whether having a Teach For America (TFA) teacher instead of a non-TFA teacher affects the academic performance of high school students.The study analyzed data from 23 North Carolina school districts that hired at least one TFA teacher from 2000 to 2005. The sample included 69 TFA teachers.

America's Promise Alliance Video at: 

Download the Report

Cities in Crisis Dropouts

A Special Analytic Report on High School Graduation and Dropouts

Visit the website for more information 

State STEM Education Rankings- You can download your state report

This week's issue of Southern Compass, the electronic newsletter published by the Southern Growth Policies Board, suggested its readers check out the March 27, 2008, edition of Education Week, which is dedicated to examining what states are doing to improve science, technology, engineering and math education (STEM). STEM education is considered one of the highest priorities by many groups for the U.S. to maintain its global leadership in innovation and competitiveness.

The online Education Week is dedicated to the Technology Counts report, which looks at the states' STEM progress in the three areas of student access to technology, use of technology in student education, and institutional and teacher capacity to use technology. A joint project of Education Week and the Editorial Projects of the Educational Research Center, Technology Counts 2008 is the 11th annual assessment conducted to benchmark states against each other and the national average on 14 indicators, such as test scores, standards and policy inputs toward improving STEM education.

While Technology Counts 2008 marks significant progress in several areas nationally - such as the number of states requiring at least three years of math or science before awarding a high school diploma (which has grown to 38 and 35 states, respectively) - the individual grades states received reflect the challenges still ahead. Only the District of Columbia, Iowa and Mississippi have not prepared technology standards either as stand-alone documents or as integrated elements of the English, math, science or history curricula.

The report's grading of states may remind Digest readers of some of their tougher high school teachers: Only three states - West Virginia, Georgia and South Dakota received an overall grade of A or A- (90 points or higher on a 100 point scale). On the other hand, while none of the states were found failing, seven received overall marks of D+, D or D-: California, Delaware, Hawaii, Nevada, Oregon, Rhode Island and the District of Columbia. Because of changes to the measures, comparison to the grades of previous years is discouraged, Education Week advises.

Grading is based on both quantitative and qualitative measures. The four Access indicators included: percent of students with access to computers in fourth grade, percent with access in eighth grade, number of students per instructional computer and number of students per high speed Internet-connected computer. Use and capacity measures were based on the presence of policies and standards the Education Research Center deemed important for improving STEM education, such as whether or not a state had a virtual school, if it offered computer-based assessments, or whether or not a state required teachers to pass technology requirements at hiring and recertification points.   

In addition to the detailed state reports, interactive maps and tables charting scores and trends, Technology Counts includes articles profiling examples of successful STEM initiatives and some of the challenges measuring the impact of federal initiatives to improve STEM. Technology Counts 2008 is available at:

Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA)

Are students well prepared for future challenges? Can they analyse, reason and communicate effectively? Do they have the capacity to continue learning throughout life? The OECD Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) answers these questions and more, through its surveys of 15-year-olds in the principal industrialised countries. Every three years, it assesses how far students near the end of compulsory education have acquired some of the knowledge and skills essential for full participation in society.

One of the pitfalls of U.S K-12 education is mandatory national testing without a mandatory national comprehensive curriculum.  Decisions on what and how to teach are still made at the individual school district level and sometimes by teachers in the classroom.  In the Bay Area Study provided below, science was barely taught 20 minutes a week and sometimes not at all.  You will notice in the following videos that all of the countries that are currently leading in the PISA education testing have adopted a new paradigm of comprehensive national curriculum with 6 or more hours a week devoted to science and experiments.  These countries understand that educating their students for a global society cannot be left to chance, therefore adapting to change by introducing the concepts of nature very early in the students learning matrix.  Shifting to this paradigm stimulates young students curiousity to learn the natural sciences to understand 'how their world works' without the complaint about long hours and extra school days on the calendar.  As you watch the videos from the leading countries in education the differences will become clear.  New innovative solutions need to be discussed on a national scale for our students to be able to live and work in a global community.

PISA 2006 – Science Learning: Canada 

After much debate about Comprehensive education in Finland the country decided to switch to this method in 1970 and is now the leading country for science education on the PISA assessments

PISA 2006 – Science Learning: Finland 

PISA 2006 – Science Learning: Germany 

PISA 2006 – Science Learning: Japan 

PISA 2006 – Science Learning: Mexico 

These clips are taken from a full-length documentary, PISA 2006: Science for tomorrow – Impressions from successful schools around the world. For information on how to obtain this film, please click here. 

Read the following article from eschool News to understand the complexity of our current educational crisis.


Science education in the spotlight

As schools prepare for the debut this fall of science testing under No Child Left Behind, educators and science advocates are calling for renewed awareness of what many say is a national crisis in science education.;_hbguid=93197112-b5f4-4154-85e0-a7cd97f9911d 

Recent Reports

Nations report card 2005 

2007 Bay Area Study 

Choice, Changes and Challenges in the NCLB Era 

Both of these reports were released in 2003 and should be read and discussed for Societal Implications and Ethics

Converging Technologies for Improving Human Performance:

Nanotechnology, Biotechnology, Information Technology and Cognitive Science

NSF/DOC-sponsored report 497pages


The graphics in the pdf files have been down sampled to 72 dpi to create smaller file sizes. Printed graphics from these files do not reflect the quality of the graphics that will be in the final printed report.

Complete Report in PDF format 

Beyond Therapy: Biotechnology and the Pursuit of Happiness

The President's Council on Bioethics

Washington, D.C., October 2003

Full Document (PDF: 4.57 MB)

Full Document (HTML: 12.6 KB) 

The video 'Building Gods' by Four Door Films was sent to us by Ken Gumps.  

Still in the rough cut stage, this independant film maker has posted the 1hr/20min film clip on the Google Video site for viewers.

Enhancing the Human with AI, sensors and implants are all discussed in this film.  Are you ready to become a Cyborg? 

View the film and then read the report Converging Technologies for Improving Human Performance ( above) generated by the National Science Foundation, which outlines the possible technological enhancements for human beings under consideration over the next 20 years.  Maybe we should be concerned enough for dicussion.  Somehow these 500 page reports are not too popular with the public, so hopefully the video will introduce the ideas and the societal implications generated by life-changing proposed projects of this magnitude.  

AI/Nanotech/Transhumanist documentary free to view on Google Video.

! hour, 20 minutes, 23 seconds. 

Today's kids are 'media multitaskers'

The type of students today's educators are likely to encounter--and the kinds of challenges educators might face as they seek to engage those students in learning--may be seen in a new light, thanks to a survey released March 9 by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Kaiser Family Foundation  

"Generation M: Media in the Lives of 8-18 Year-olds"  

Pew Internet & American Life Project  

Compared with 2000, there was no measurable change in the reading performance of U.S. students, or in the nation's average standing when compared to other OECD countries.   There was no change in science, either, in terms of the performance of U.S. students. But the U.S. score in science has now fallen below the international average.


Program for International Student Assessment  

Center on Education Policy  

Business Roundtable  

National Center for Education Statistics  

Report sees online schools as models for reform 

 Virtual schooling is driving the very transformation in public education that advocates of school reform long have sought, says a new report. The report urges educators and policy makers to look to virtual schooling as a model for reform strategies that can be applied more broadly to education in general. 

Education Sector report 

Primary Promise, Secondary Challenge: A State-by-State Look at Student Achievement Patterns

The report from the Education Trust examines state assessment results in reading and math between 2003-2005 and finds that progress in raising achievement and closing gaps continues to be strongest in the elementary grades. Overall achievement in middle and high school has improved somewhat. However, the report states that "four years after enactment of the No Child Left Behind law, there is still too little progress in narrowing gaps between groups in the secondary grades."

This report is available at: