2005 Regular Session
To: Education; Appropriations
By: Senator(s) Nunnelee
AN ACT TO ESTABLISH THE "MISSISSIPPI SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY, ENGINEERING AND MATHEMATICS (STEM) EDUCATION COMPETITIVENESS ACT"; TO PROVIDE DEFINITIONS; TO PRESCRIBE THE RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE STATE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION AND LOCAL SCHOOL DISTRICTS IN ADDRESSING STEM INSTRUCTION, COORDINATION AND CAREERS; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. This act shall be known and may be cited as the "Mississippi Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Education Competitiveness Act."
SECTION 2. For purposes of this act:
(a) "Department" means the State Department of Education.
(b) "K-12" means Kindergarten through the Twelfth Grade.
(c) "Public education" means education in public schools in grades Kindergarten through the Twelfth Grade (K-12).
(d) "STEM" means science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
(e) "Technology" means the processes and mechanisms used to modify and control our environment; technology includes chemical, structural, mechanical, electrical and electronic systems of which computers and information technology is only a small segment.
SECTION 3. It is the intent of the Mississippi Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Education Competitiveness Act to place students at the center of science, technology, engineering and mathematics competitiveness. The success of teachers, schools, school districts and state education agencies will be measured in terms of student competitiveness. The State Department of Education, and local school districts in partnership with other organizations, shall have as priorities:
(a) Maintaining students' early natural curiosity about science and technology by emphasizing incremental, "clinically" tested improvements in STEM curricula;
(b) Building cumulative STEM competencies in students by building on the foundation of knowledge established at each level of education, from elementary grades where students have innate curiosity about their world and how it works through middle school, high school and beyond;
(c) Providing students with hands-on, open-ended, real-world problem-solving experiences which are linked to the curriculum; using science, engineering and technology modules; and grouping such experiences and modules by discipline and level of difficulty;
(d) Promoting hands-on activities for students, including research-oriented classes or student-centered (as opposed to credit-centered) science fairs in middle school grades, making high school science fairs more appealing to students through authentic research projects that emphasize the use of mathematics in reporting results and promoting engineering and technology competitions in high school;
(e) Recognizing and rewarding students who excel in academics;
(f) Supporting undergraduate, as well as graduate, students of STEM;
(g) Connecting university research in science and engineering to undergraduate, high school and middle school students statewide; and
(h) Illustrating STEM careers for students at all levels, including for entering first-year college students.
SECTION 4. The Department of Education shall develop policies and programs to increase the number and quality of STEM teachers by:
(a) Increasing STEM coursework for preservice teachers, including authentic research experiences through research classes, internships and externships;
(b) Training preservice and in-service teachers on 21st Century information technology;
(c) Offering an effective alternate certification and transition to teaching assistance for nonteaching scientists, engineers, mathematicians and other technically-trained professionals who are qualified and wish to teach STEM;
(d) Recommending differential pay for STEM teachers, subject to specific appropriation therefor;
(e) Improving in-service training;
(f) Improving professional development by focusing on the STEM curricula; and
(g) Providing opportunities for mentoring of teachers by master teachers.
SECTION 5. School districts shall prepare strategic plans which, when implemented, will:
(a) Deploy current computer technology in classrooms through school buildings.
(b) Require computer training for teachers in preservice and support in-service training of teachers to use current technology effectively in the classroom.
(c) Provide effective teaching materials, including those for hands-on activities and access to on-line teaching and learning resources.
(d) Strengthen the supportive climate that positively affects female and minority student interest and self-confidence in STEM.
SECTION 6. In the area of STEM education, the department shall prepare a report, to be submitted to the Governor, and the Education Committees of the Senate and the House of Representatives, concerning the status of, and plans to:
(a) Adopt pre-engineering content standards and a pre-engineering curriculum.
(b) Support regional STEM high schools that effectively emphasize STEM content for a diverse student population and provide a supportive culture of excellence that positively affects all students', and especially women and minority students', interest and self-confidence in STEM.
(c) Use partnerships with private sector and nongovernmental organizations to assist in setting STEM content standards, curricula and high performance standards.
(d) Monitor research on STEM teaching and learning. (e) Propose and evaluate best practices in teaching STEM in accordance with content standards.
(f) Disseminate best practices to school districts.
(g) Maintain on-line STEM content standards and curricula.
(h) Maintain a centralized website as a one-stop resource for teachers.
(i) Employ an adequate number of science coordinators at the department so that they are readily available to all school districts.
(j) Provide public outreach and parental educational materials.
(k) Stress the importance of education in general and four-year college degrees in particular.
(l) Support high performance standards and resist lowering standards when student performance is low.
(m) Develop better student assessment mechanisms and other outcome measures to be used to establish accountability.
(n) Use current funds more efficiently and redirect cost savings to support academic areas of need.
(o) Address discontinuities between what exists in public education and what should exist in order to meet the current educational needs of students.
SECTION 7. The State Department of Education shall cooperate with statewide organizations and partnerships to enhance the research experience of STEM students at all levels. These efforts may include, but are not limited to:
(a) Supporting science fairs, where students explain their observations by using math, at the middle and high school level;
(b) Supporting technology competitions, where students use various information technology and software programs to address community issues, at the middle and high school level;
(c) Supporting pre-engineering competitions, where students engage in robotic competitions, at the middle and high school level;
(d) Establishing summer science, technology and engineering research experiences at four-year universities for teachers and high school students to increase research competencies;
(e) Supporting science, technology and engineering students in undergraduate and graduate research;
(f) Encouraging graduate students to apply their research in public education settings;
(g) Coordinating good mentoring of students at all levels to overcome stereotypes of scientists, technologists, engineers and mathematicians;
(h) Emphasizing education as a family and community value;
(i) Showcasing STEM professionals in the community as role models for students;
(j) Encouraging partnership formation at the local level;
(k) Encouraging parental support for high achievement in STEM; and
(l) Communicating the value of retaining some of the community's best and brightest students as knowledge workers.
SECTION 8. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 2005.