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Making Good on Our Word: STEM Faculty and K-16 Partnerships


For the last quarter century, the focus on education reform has been directed at the K-12 sector. With the 1998 reauthorization of the Higher Education Act and the 2002 reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (the so-called No Child Left Behind Act), policy and legislation has turned to the role of postsecondary education as a lever for school reform. In conjunction with demands for improved teacher preparation, a number of organizations have issued public calls for colleges and universities to increase the number of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) graduates to combat a perceived loss in U.S. technological and scientific expertise (Cordova, 2006; National Academies, 2005; Business Higher Education Forum, 2005).

One major response to these demands is the National Science Foundation (NSF) Math Science Partnerships (MSP) program, which has provided $600 million for institutions to create and sustain partnerships between K-12 and higher education to improve STEM teaching and learning in both K-12 and higher education. Symposium presenters include two STEM faculty involved in MSPs, a policy scholar involved in research on alignment and teacher preparation, and a researcher with the NSF-funded Change and Sustainability in Higher Education (CASHE) project (National Science Foundation, 2005).

Presenters will share experiences and research on advances in policy and practice resulting from the NSF MSP initiative, including the challenges of defining and maintaining partnerships across distinct educational sectors; the roles involved in creating and sustaining curricular changes that align with local, state, and disciplinary standards; the nature of university reward systems, and the challenges of managing partnerships for change within and across different types of IHEs.