WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Institute for a Competitive Workforce (ICW) hosted a national summit of business and education leaders last week to coincide with the release of a new study.

The Case for Being Bold: A New Agenda for Business in Improving STEM Education released on Wednesday calls for specific action to improve U.S. success in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education.

As the report notes, to tackle the STEM challenge more ambitiously, business leaders should focus on three specific key areas: Taking full advantage of strengthened and streamlined academic standards; rethinking how teachers are hired, deployed, and prepared; and promoting new models of schooling that can facilitate STEM learning.

The ICW is the non-profit, non-partisan affiliate of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. ICW promotes the rigorous educational standards and effective job training systems needed to preserve the strength of America’s greatest economic resource, its workforce.

The report was authored by three researchers at the American Enterprise Institute: Frederick M. Hess, resident scholar and director of education policy studies; Andrew P. Kelly, research fellow; and Olivia Meeks, research assistant. Each provided perspective during a panel discussion at the summit.

The report stresses the value of partnerships between business and education; urging the private sector to be more involved in education by developing human capital. Participants also emphasized the need for innovative classroom models and standards that are replicable on a large scale, including refined metrics to measure progress and immediate action to change STEM outcomes and individual return on investments.

Joel Klein, Chancellor of the New York City Department of Education, the largest public school system in the United States, spoke about education transformation and the use of revolutionary drivers to make it happen.

Klein said schools must be intelligent, data driven and accountable, and that content must be digitized, highly engaging, accessible and flexible. He also noted that learning must extend beyond the classroom, and education should be customized with dramatic steps to redefine human capital.

The U.S. Department of Education unveiled the results of the 2009 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) for science in January. The report shows that only 34 percent of U.S. fourth graders, 30 percent of eighth graders, and 21 percent of 12th graders are proficient in the field.

This came shortly after the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) showed American students continuing to lag behind their international peers.

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