Tapping America's Potential Our Goal: Increase the annual number of U.S. science, technology, engineering and mathematics bachelor's-level graduates to 400,000 degrees by 2015.
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Are We Falling Behind

TAP Policy Recommendations

TAP has outlined a series of policy solutions to work toward achieving its goal of doubling the number of U.S. STEM graduates and driving American innovation and job growth.

Click on the plus sign next to each recommendation to find out more.

  • 1. Build public support for making science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) improvement a national priority.
    • a. Coordinate the many campaigns that have been launched to help parents, students, employees and community leaders understand why STEM is so important to individual success and national prosperity. (Business)
    • b. Expand efforts to encourage students to take rigorous core academic courses in high school and provide role models and other real-world examples of the work that technicians, engineers and scientists do. (Business)
  • 2. Motivate U.S. students and adults to study and enter STEM careers, with a special effort geared to those in currently underrepresented groups.
    • a. Support scholarships and loan-forgiveness programs for students who pursue postsecondary objectives - such as industry-recognized credentials - two-year, four-year and graduate degrees in STEM fields, including students who plan to teach STEM, particularly in high-poverty schools. (Federal, State, Business)
    • b. Increase the retention rate of postsecondary students in STEM majors by pursuing programs that encourage college graduates to pursue fields outside of academia that combine STEM with industry needs. Encourage private sector involvement in consortia of industries and universities that establish clear metrics to increase the number of graduates. Decrease the high school dropout rate generally so that more students stay in school and on track to study and pursue careers in STEM fields. (Higher Education, Business, Federal, State)
    • c. Eliminate the security clearance backlog that discourages many talented U.S. citizens - graduating students and adults - from entering key national security STEM careers by providing an expedited clearance process. (Federal)
    • d. Establish prestigious fellowships for exceptional recent college graduates or those at mid-career that lead to certification and a five-year commitment to teach STEM in schools with high-poverty populations. (Federal, State, Business)
    • e. Create opportunities for high-achieving STEM students, such as advanced courses, STEM immersion experiences, corporate internships, charter schools, local magnet programs and regional/state magnet schools. (State, Business)
    • f. Support state implementation of common core standards, particularly in mathematics, as well as Next Generation Science Standards, to ensure all students graduate high school prepared to pursue postsecondary study and/or careers in STEM fields. (District, Business)
  • 3. Upgrade K-12 STEM teaching to foster higher student achievement.
    • a. Promote market and performance-based compensation and incentive packages to attract and retain effective STEM teachers. (Business, District, State, Federal)
    • b. Support cost-effective and proven professional development and other technical assistance to ensure STEM teachers have the requisite knowledge to teach the content effectively. (State, District, Higher Education, Federal, Business)
    • c. Support incentives in federal and state policies for colleges and universities to produce more STEM majors and to strengthen preparation programs for prospective STEM teachers. (Federal, State, Higher Education)
    • d. Provide high-quality online alternatives and postsecondary options for students in middle school and high school. (State)
    • e. Ensure student access to engaging digital content and other forms of e-learning in the STEM subjects where technology is core to their real-world application, where simulation can help visualization/comprehension of difficult concepts, and where adaptive courseware can help individualized instruction. (Business, Federal, State and Local)
  • 4. Reform visa and immigration policies to enable the United States to attract and retain the best and brightest STEM students from around the world to study for advanced degrees and stay to work in America.
    • a. Provide an expedited process to obtain permanent residence for foreign students who receive advanced degrees in STEM fields at U.S. universities. (Federal)
    • b. Ensure a timely process for foreign students who want to study STEM at U.S. universities to obtain the necessary visas by clearing U.S. Department of Homeland Security requirements. (Federal)
  • 5. Boost and sustain funding for basic research, especially in the physical sciences and engineering.
    • a. Sustain the federal share of total R&D; spending, particularly for basic research in the physical sciences and engineering at the National Science Foundation, National Institute of Standards and Technology, U.S. Department of Defense basic research programs and U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science, by ensuring that federal investments keep pace with U.S. economic growth and inflation. (Federal)
    • b. Maintain investments in basic research in the life sciences at the National Institutes of Health. (Note: The 2005 TAP report did not include recommendations about the life sciences. Unlike the physical sciences and engineering, there has not been a concern about shortages of baccalaureate degrees in the life sciences and funding has been strong over many years. As decisions about spending priorities are made, TAP is adding the critical importance of sustained federal funding for basic scientific research in both the physical and life sciences.) (Federal)