Division of Legislative Services > Legislative Record > 2006

HJR 25: Science, Math, and Technology Education

August 1, 2006

The Joint Subcommittee Studying Science, Math, and Technology Education was created by HJR 25 to review the curriculum of existing public schools, including Governor's Schools and other specialized public schools; study accessibility to specialized public schools by students; and examine the Standards of Learning for math and science to ensure that students are provided with the fundamentals necessary for successful continuation of science, math, and technology education at the college level. Delegate Cosgrove was elected as the chair and Senator Devolites-Davis as the vice-chair of the joint subcommittee. The Department of Education (DOE) and several other guest speakers were invited to make presentations at the meeting.


Patrick Cushing, DLS study staff, reviewed the requirements and scope of HJR 25. His presentation, additional information, and the complete testimony and handouts of all of the guest speakers may be found on the study website hosted by DLS.

DOE Presentation & Discussion
James Firebaugh - Office of Middle and High School Instruction DEO

Standards of Learning (SOL)
Mr. Firebaugh spoke on the science and math SOL and explained that technology education is imbedded in the math SOL through the required use of a graphing calculator. Virginia ranks among the top states in science, but has drawn criticism for its ranking in the physics SOL. Senator Devolites-Davis commented that her daughter took AP Physics in high school, but was unprepared for a college physics class. Mr. Firebaugh responded that the curriculum for AP classes is reviewed by a college board, and noted that the SOLs only target non-AP classes.

Members discussed incorporation of technology into the current SOLs or possibly developing a separate technology SOL. The joint subcommittee was interested in obtaining input from the Board of Education on this issue.

STEM Fields
Members discussed the educational preparation of students entering college in science, technology, engineering, or math (STEM) fields. The general consensus was that students lack the hard math skills needed to succeed in college level physics, chemistry, and math classes. The joint subcommittee requested the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV) to perform a preliminary survey of college students and professors to help identify specific areas of weaknesses for incoming students. The members were also interested in determining if there are state geographic weaknesses in math and science. Although Virginia as a whole ranks fairly high in math and science education in K-12, there may be geographic discrepancies hidden by state-wide statistics.

Governor’s Schools
The members next discussed the role of the Governor's Schools in Virginia. Senator Devolites-Davis requested that Mr. Firebaugh report on statistics relating to the number of incoming students, the number of students rejected for admission, and the number of applicants to each of the Governor’s Schools in math, science, and technology. The members also asked to hear from a representa-tive from the Virginia Junior Academy of Science at the next meeting.


Elizabeth Russell - Director of Career and Technical Education DOE

Mrs. Russell stated that there are currently 88,000 students enrolled in technology related courses in the career and technology education program. Mrs. Russell reviewed several programs that students may pursue, including a new course in nanotechnology. The joint subcommittee was interested in learning more about Project Lead the Way.

Dr. LaVista - Executive Director SCHEV

Dr. LaVista presented an overview on efforts to increase science, math, and technology education in the Commonwealth's universities. The joint subcommittee was interested in obtaining information regarding the number of STEM graduates as compared to other fields and the potential salary benefits of majoring in a STEM field. A major point of inquiry was why many students enter college with intentions of majoring in a STEM field, but half of those students do not graduate with a STEM major. Another issue addressed by the joint subcommit-tee was the need to recruit qualified faculty and allow current faculty to devote more time to research. SCHEV is currently in the process of performing a peer review faculty pay study and will report their findings as soon as they are available.

Dr. Monty Sullivan - Virginia Community College System

Dr. Sullivan gave a brief overview on various science and technology related programs in the Virginia Community College System (VCCS). Dr Sullivan's powerpoint presentation is available on the study website, which includes the following information:

• All 23 VCCS colleges offer programs in math, science, and technology.
• VCCS offers over 25 academic programs in math, science, and technology related disciplines.
• In 2005-06, almost 19,000 students were enrolled in math, science, and technology degree programs.
• Over 1,500 students completed programs in science and engineering in 2004-05.
• VCCS also offers certificates and diplomas in closely related program areas.
• Disciplines include biomedical, engineering technology, and modeling and simulation.
• Over 275 students completed certificates in science and engineering in 2004-05.

Public Comment

Kathleen Stansbury, President-elect, Virginia Technology Education Association, spoke regarding the importance of integrating technology education into existing curriculum and across all subject areas and recommended utilizing the Standards for Technological Education. The standards were developed on a national level and have been successfully implemented by several K-12 teachers in the Commonwealth. Members asked Mrs. Stansbury to report on the standards in greater detail at the meeting in October.

Next Meeting

Information regarding the October meeting of the joint subcommittee will be posted on the General Assembly Calendar and the study website as soon as available.

The Hon. John A. Cosgrove

For information, contact:
Patrick Cushing and Nikki Seeds, DLS Staff


Division of Legislative Services > Legislative Record > 2006

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