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Experts Outline New STEM Guidelines

Education panel outlines new science, technology, engineering, and math guidelines.

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With the U.S. lagging far behind countries such as China, India, and South Korea in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) achievement, a group of education reformers, businesspeople, and researchers have released a report outlining how America can play catch up.

"The Case for Being Bold," which was released by the Institute for a Competitive Workforce, an affiliate of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, says conventional education policy such as reducing class sizes and basing teacher pay raises on experience, not performance, hasn't worked, and new ideas must be explored. At a conference held in Washington, D.C. Wednesday to release the report, Joel Klein, former New York City public schools chancellor, said the status quo must be scrapped.

"Instead of having a great education system, we want a system comprised of great schools," he said. Klein outlined five guidelines to bring American STEM education system up to par—many of them requiring the implementation of technology.

He said schools needed to be more data driven, create digitized content for students to use, teach outside the classroom using technology such as online classes, customize education for each student, and redistribute teachers where they would be most effective.

Klein talked about a charter school in New York City where students could start the next grade when they had mastered content from their own grade level, and where students texted with tutors in Mumbai.

"We need to pay teachers a lot more, and have fewer of them," he said. "We need to max out the value of each teacher."

According to the 2009 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) exam, the U.S. ranked 25th in math and 17th in science literacy. Both were middling scores.

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