HJR 90: Joint Subcommittee Studying Science,
Math and Technology Education
August 13, 2008
The Joint Subcommittee
Studying Science, Math and Technology Education held its first meeting
of the 2008 interim in Richmond. Delegate John A. Cosgrove was elected
chair and Senator Patricia S. Ticer vice-chair.
Dr. Patricia Wright,
the incoming State Superintendent of Public Instruction, addressed the
joint subcommittee regarding her vision for science, math, and technology
education in the Commonwealth. She described her background and training
in mathematics and explained how they strengthened her desire to earn
Virginia a spot at the forefront of science, math, and technology education.
Dr. Wright emphasized
teacher quality and shed light on a few troubling statistics regarding
annual teacher vacancies across the state. This past school year there
were 160 science, math, and technology instructor vacancies, which translated
into 20,000 students without competent teachers. In addition, there are
1,800 annual vacancies, which is about 11% of the teacher workforce. Finally,
Dr. Wright discussed the idea of coherence within the STEM (Science, Technology,
Engineering, and Mathematics) subject areas, emphasizing that the content
of the subject must be taught, but also the application of that content
is very important. It is her aspiration to improve teacher quality and
retention while serving as superintendent and also to move towards solid
coherence in the STEM subject areas.
Staff provided the
members with an overview of the new HJR 90 that continues the work of
the two-year HJR 25 (2006) and also expands the scope of the joint subcommittee's
work. The new resolution provides five ongoing requirements from HJR 25,
- Review of the
curriculum of existing public schools.
- Study of accessibility
to specialized schools by students throughout Virginia.
- Recommend innovative
ways to interest students in science, math, and technology.
- Identify key
points during the K-12 education experience that will determine whether
a student will become interested, and maintain that interest, in math,
science, and technology.
- Examine potential
partnerships between public schools, institutions of higher education,
and business and research entities.
Among the new directives
in HJR 90, the joint subcommittee is required to:
- Ascertain factors
contributing to the shortage of science and engineering graduates and
recommend alternatives to mitigate the effect of the factors.
- Determine current
supply and demand for science and engineering graduates and project
the need for the graduates in the next decade.
- Identify incentives
designed to attract and retain more students into science and engineering.
Staff also presented
a summary of the HJR 25 final legislative recommendations and the outcome
of the recommendations during the 2008 Regular Session.
There was a discussion
on a study conducted by the Editorial Projects in Education Research Center
in which all 50 states were surveyed to "assess the status of K-12
technology across the nation in the areas of access, use, and capacity."
Virginia received a ranking of 4th in the nation based on its 2008 technology
report card. In addition to technology, the report also addressed STEM
education overall and analyzed the states based on the National Assessment
of Educational Progress (NAEP) testing in math and science and teacher
preparation. Staff pointed out that although Virginia is ranked 37th and
28th for percentage of math teachers and science teachers holding math
and science degrees respectively, the ranking does not consider teachers
with majors in math or science education.
Science Coordinator, Office of Middle & High School Instruction, VDOE
Paula Klonowski briefed the members on the middle school science education
in Virginia. She outlined what is taught at each grade level and when
content is tested. Currently, middle school students are given a cumulative
SOL assessment covering earth science, life science, and physical science
in the eighth grade. A question from the joint subcommittee prompted a
discussion about whether some of the underperforming teachers are currently
being placed in the 6th and 7th grade science classes as a result of there
being no SOL assessment at those grade levels.
Dr. Lois Williams,
STEM Coordinator, Office of Middle & High School Instruction, VDOE
Dr. Williams set the stage for two school division presentations on the
new Governor's Career and Technical Education Academies that are starting
up during the 2008-2009 school year. There will be seven academies beginning
this year with six being funded with the National Governor's Association
Grant received by the Commonwealth last July. The Loudoun County academy
was created solely from local funding. Two more academies are expected
by 2009. The academies are intended to provide options for students to
acquire knowledge in the STEM fields "that will prepare them for
high-demand, high-wage, and high skill careers in Virginia." Courses
may be taken at a high school, online, or at a community college. Proposals
were required to include a minimum of one institution of higher education,
one partner from business and industry, and one public school division;
one of the approved academies has 17 business partners. An academy website
is currently in production in order to promote the model for replication
across all 132 school divisions. All academies are required to provide:
- Rigorous academic
content with career and technical instruction.
- Emphasis on STEM
- Individual high
school plans for each student.
- Assurance that
graduates complete a college and work readiness curriculum.
- Assurance that
graduates will qualify for new technical and advanced technical diplomas.
- Virginia's Workplace
Executive Director, New Horizons Regional Education Centers and GAITE
gave the members a sense of how the Governor’s Academy for Innovation,
Technology, and Engineering (GAITE) will operate as a regional and coordinated
effort across six school divisions. GAITE courses will focus on engineering
with career pathways in electrical engineering technology and mechanical
engineering technology because those are the specific employment needs
of the Peninsula region. All courses will be offered at divisional high
schools, New Horizons, Thomas Nelson Community College, or through distance
learning. Although the courses are offered only at the 11th and 12th grade
levels, exploration of the subjects will begin in the 7th and 8th grades
with "exploratory Saturdays" and with a summer camp in the 9th
and 10th grades. Business partners of GAITE include Northrop Grumman and
Canon Virginia, Inc. Mr. Johnson agreed with a joint subcommittee member
that making tax credits available to businesses willing to support the
academies' efforts would be a fantastic payoff.
Dr. Melanie Stanley,
Director of Academies, & Paul Stapleton, Division Superintendent,
Halifax County Public Schools
Dr. Melanie Stanley and Paul Stapleton presented an overview of the work
of the Governor's Career and Technical Academy for Renewable Resources
and Agricultural Sciences. It is a comprehensive academy intended to provide
students with a focus on agricultural and natural resources disciplines
relevant to the area the academy serves. The goals of the academy include
providing opportunities to hone skills with experts in agricultural positions,
providing opportunities to develop technological skills, and promoting
career awareness in agriculture. There is an elementary, middle, and high
school component to the academy that will encourage students to explore
careers such as marine biology, conservation science, mining and geological
engineering, and botany.
The joint subcommittee
plans to have two more meetings during the 2008 interim. The next meeting
date will be posted on the study's website and the General Assembly calendar
as soon as information is available.
The Hon. John Cosgrove
Nicole Cheuk and
Patrick Cushing, DLS Staff
of Legislative Services > Legislative
Record > 2008
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