Congressman takes leadership role in STEM project
Calf. – Congressman Jerry McNerney, who represents California’s 9th District and serves on the House Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Education Caucus, has joined the advisory board of STEM Learning Opportunities Providing Equity, an endeavor supported by a federal Investing in Innovation grant.
The project is one of 49 awarded grant money in 2009 by the U.S. Department of Education’s Investing in Innovation program. The i3 program was envisioned as a resource for experimentation in dealing with some of the nation’s most complex educational challenges.
More than $1 billion has been awarded under the i3 program since its inception, with the first cohort of projects – like SLOPE – nearing conclusion.
Unlike most educational studies of the past, the i3 program requires strenuous attention to the scientific method. SLOPE’s project, for instance, had two groups of about 5,000 students participate over a two year period. Half of them were assigned to control classrooms, where teachers engaged in a traditional approach to algebra instructions; the other half, the treatment group, received the benefits of the project-based curriculum led by teachers who had also received additional training.
The program required project administrators to account for even the smallest of outside impact on the subjects. Even contact of a reporter to a participating teacher was considered.
According to a July report from the U.S. Department of Education, the 92 grants funded so far are using a variety of approaches. Some are exploring online training and coaching; others are looking at alternative pathways for teacher preparation; and others are creating or adapting digital tools to support teaching and learning.