Making the Most of ESSA: Opportunities to Advance STEM Education

Client: Overdeck Family Foundation

Education First, with the support of Overdeck Family Foundation, is proud to release Making the Most of ESSA: Opportunities to Advance STEM Education. The publication recommends concrete practices to help ensure that four of the most common science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) policies in state Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) plans best support student success. You can download it here.

The report is grounded in our analysis of STEM in all 17 submitted ESSA plans and eight draft plans. Of those 25 plans, we found that states focused on four STEM-related policies:

  • Including state science assessment results in accountability systems
  • Including career- and technical-education indicators in accountability systems
  • Including Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate indicators in accountability systems
  • Requiring or encouraging STEM elements in 21st Century Community Learning Center grants

Through extensive research and interviews with national STEM experts, the report recommends best practices for states as well as organizations that can help to implement each of these policies to advance high-quality STEM education while promoting equity. We hope that it will help states to take advantage of the opportunities ESSA provides for STEM education. We also hope the report gives advocates and funders ideas on what to push as ESSA planning turns into ESSA implementation.

“Every child deserves the opportunity to experience the sheer joy of discovery through high-quality, hands-on STEM education” said Laura Overdeck, chair of Overdeck Family Foundation and founder and president of Bedtime Math. “We hope that all states and districts will take advantage of new opportunities under ESSA to inspire the next generation of critical thinkers and problem solvers through bolstering STEM education.”

We also recommend that you read Achieve’s new report, Leveraging ESSA to Promote Science and STEM Education in States. It contains more analysis and recommendations and is a valuable complement to our report.

If you have any thoughts or questions, feel free to contact me at

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