STEM Education and Your State's ESSA Plan

Make Sure STEM Education Is a Priority in Your State’s ESSA Plan

In every state, stakeholders are currently developing ESSA implementation plans to be submitted to the U.S. Department of Education in Spring 2017.

State development of ESSA plans is moving forward. 17 states will submit plans on April 3rd, including D.C., CO, LA, MA, NV, OH, and TN. All others are submitting in September.


Now is the time to make sure your voice is heard and to help frame and define the way STEM education and STEM teacher preparation will be addressed in your state going forward. These plans will address teacher preparation, evaluation systems, professional development, recruitment and retention, induction, expansion of coursework, and so on.

DAY OF ACTION: February 22. The National Governor’s Association is convening on February 23. Wouldn’t it be great if they all got calls about the importance of STEM the day before? For the first time, Governors are required to sign off on these plans. Go here for a toolkit including phone scripts and suggested strategies for making contact.

What Else You Can Do

  1. Visit the Every Student Succeeds with STEM campaign hub to learn more about key Titles in ESSA affecting STEM.
  2. Familiarize yourself with key milestones and the timelines and state plan drafts for ESSA implementation plan development in your state.
  3. Continue to make contact with your state agency staff to ensure that they know about your work and the importance of prioritizing STEM education in the state plan. Plan a face-to-face meeting and bring along a few of your students or graduates! Also, what a great way to get your student organization involved—get some pizza and have them send emails or postcards.
  4. Sign up/volunteer for stakeholder committees that are being convened in your state to address plan development.

What Should You Be Saying?

Some general guidance is available here.

Make sure that leaders in your state understand the critical role that universities have to play in the preparation of STEM teachers. Currently, a very small percentage of STEM graduates from these universities enter teaching. Universities should be encouraged and supported by the state to prepare more STEM teachers.

ESSA allows states to create new teacher, principal, and school leadership academies to help meet the need for educators in high-need schools. Request that your state develop opportunities to further fund and support all high-quality, clinically intensive program pathways to STEM teacher preparation. Your program (and UTeach generally) provides clinically intensive teacher preparation to undergraduate STEM majors, who represent the single best pool from which to draw future STEM teachers, without adding cost or time to their preparation.

Get involved to ensure that STEM education and teacher preparation remain a priority in your state so that more students are engaged in STEM learning.