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Governor Wolf: Modern Science Education Standards and PAsmart will Prepare Students for Good Careers in Pennsylvania

March 03, 2020

Governor Tom Wolf thanked educators, parents and businesses for sharing their input today on modernizing the state’s science education standards which determine how science is taught in schools. The governor also discussed his groundbreaking PAsmart initiative which has invested $40 million in science and technology education.

“Science is increasingly part of our everyday education, work, and lives in a changing economy,” said Governor Wolf. “Businesses need workers with the problem solving and analytical skills that are developed by studying science. Updating the state’s science education standards will prepare students with the skills and knowledge they’ll need to succeed at many different jobs in the future. A good science education also is the foundation of a strong workforce and will help the state to compete in the global economy.”

The governor spoke to stakeholders in Dauphin County as part of a series of public meetings the Department of Education is holding to gather feedback. The state Board of Education last fall directed the department to update the state’s science education standards to align them with current research and best practices, including a review of the Next Generation Science Standards.

Pennsylvania has two sets of science standards – Science and Technology and Environment and Ecology – which are the basis for curriculum development and instruction in schools. The science standards were last updated on January 5, 2002.

Governor Wolf is committed to science and technology education. The governor launched the innovative PAsmart initiative two years ago which has invested $40 million to bring high-quality science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) and computer science education in elementary, middle, and high schools, and professional development for teachers as well as $30 million to expand hands-on job training through career and technical education, registered apprenticeships and Next Generation Industry Partnerships.

The Wolf Administration awards PAsmart funding through two competitive grant programs: Targeted Grants and Advancing Grants. Hundreds of PAsmart Targeted Grants of $35,000 each are helping schools across Pennsylvania to expand computer science programming and prioritize access for underrepresented students, such as students of color, girls, low-income students and students in rural communities. The funding also provides training to more than 1,100 educators to teach STEM and computer science.

PAsmart Advancing Grants, of up to $500,000 each, support cross-sector partnerships to provide quality STEM and computer science learning for all ages – early childhood, preK-12, postsecondary, and adult learners. The next round of PAsmart Advancing grant recipients will be announced soon.

Projects funded by the PAsmart Advancing Grants include computer science and STEM camps and robotics programs in rural schools; support for diversity and inclusion on esports teams in high-need areas; STEM programming for preK-2 students and classrooms; and a mobile fabrication lab where students gain hands-on experience in coding and robotics.

PAsmart has made Pennsylvania a national leader in STEM and computer science education. The commonwealth is tied for first in the nation for the number of nationally recognized STEM ecosystems and produces the fifth most STEM graduates. The governor’s budget proposes to continue funding PAsmart.

At the governor’s request, the Pennsylvania Board of Education also made computer science education available to all students by endorsing the Computer Science Teacher Association (CSTA) K-12 Standards in 2018. Over the next decade, seven in 10 new jobs in Pennsylvania will require workers to use computers and new technologies.

For more information about pursuing an education and career in Pennsylvania at any stage of life, visit PAsmart.

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