Following a 2011 report by the National Research Council (NRC) on successful K-12 education in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), Congress asked the National Science Foundation (NSF) to identify methods for tracking progress toward the report’s recommendations. In response, a committee convened by the NRC authored a second report describing a set of 14 progress indicators related to students’ access to quality learning, educators’ capacity, and policy and funding initiatives in STEM.

This second NRC report Monitoring Progress Toward Successful K-12 STEM Education (2013), addresses the need for research and data that can be used to monitor progress in the K-12 STEM education system and for making informed decisions about improving it. The recommended indicators provide a framework for Congress and relevant federal agencies to create and implement a national-level monitoring and reporting system that could support progress towards the NRC’s three goals for U.S. K-12 education in the STEM disciplines.

Goal 1. Expand the number of students who ultimately pursue advanced degrees and careers in STEM fields and broaden the participation of women and minorities in those fields.
Goal 2. Expand the STEM-capable workforce and broaden the participation of women and minorities in that workforce.
Goal 3. Increase STEM literacy for all students, including those who do not pursue STEM-related careers or additional study in the STEM disciplines.

By providing a system of 14 progress indicators related to students’ access to quality learning, educators’ capacity, and policy and funding initiatives in STEM, the NRC supports research about about equitable access to challenging learning opportunities and instructional materials in STEM, teachers’ capacity to use those opportunities and materials well, and policies and structures that support effective educational practices.

Developing a K-12 STEM Indicator System

SRI International supported efforts by the National Science Foundation to implement a set of key indicators that can be used by policymakers, researchers, and practitioners to monitor components of K-12 STEM education and to guide improvements. Recognizing that many of the indicators require further conceptual work and preliminary research, NSF issued a Dear Colleague Letter (DCL) to fund EAGER grants that advance knowledge about how to measure the indicators. Since 2014, SRI hosted convenings of the DCL awardees and additional NSF PIs with projects related to the indicators.

SRI has pursued methods to disseminate the research and data collection recommendations stemming from NSF’s K-12 STEM indicators work. This website is one form of outreach. Designed largely with STEM education researchers in mind, the website is a central hub for information about NSF-funded PI’s doing indicators-related research, and provides a repository of resources related to the indicators work. SRI’s Advisory Group played a central role in all activities related to the development of a aK-12 STEM Indicator System.


Advisory Group Members
Adam Gamoran, William T. Grant Foundation
Alan Friedman, Consultant (deceased)
Bill Schmidt, Michigan State University
Bill Tate, Washington University of St. Louis
Dan Goldhaber, University of Washington
Drew Gitomer, Rutgers University
Irwin Kirsch, Educational Testing Services
Joe Krajcik, Michigan State University
Laura Desimone, University of Pennsylvania
Mike Smith, Carnegie Foundation
Natalie Nielsen, National Research Council
Peggy Carr, Institute of Education Sciences