On February 25, 2015, 232 Republicans were joined by 180 Democrats to pass HR 1020, STEM Education Act of 2015 against the opposition of only 8 Republicans; out of the entire House of Representatives, 4 Republicans and 8 Democrats did not vote.
The bill represents progress on a number of fronts that have been challenges to raising computer science literacy and skills among American students: research and development, funding for activities and support for qualified teachers. This is the latest development in the US politics of teaching kids to code.
A summary of the bill by the Congressional Research Service, a nonpartisan division of the Library of Congress offers the following details:
- Requires the Director of the National Science Foundation (NSF) to continue to award competitive, merit-reviewed grants to support: (1) research and development of innovative out-of-school STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) learning and emerging STEM learning environments; and (2) research that advances the field of informal STEM education.
- Requires supported activities to include research and development that improves understanding of learning and engagement in informal environments and design and testing of innovative STEM resources for such environments to improve STEM learning outcomes and increase engagement for elementary and secondary school students and teachers and the public.
- Amends the National Science Foundation Authorization Act of 2002 to allow award of NSF Master Teaching Fellowships to mathematics and science teachers who possess a bachelor’s degree in their field (currently limited to those with a master’s degree).
- Requires fellowship grants to be used, in the case of Master Teaching Fellowships for teachers with bachelor’s degrees in their field who are working toward a master’s degree, to:(1) offer academic courses leading to a master’s degree and leadership training to prepare individuals to become master teachers, and(2) offer programs both during and after matriculation to enable fellows to become highly effective mathematics and science teachers and to exchange ideas with others in their fields.Limits fellowship support during such a master’s degree program to one year.