Spotlight Articles from Melissa Carl, SWE Washington Representative

Each month SWE NEWS will provide a spotlight update on our public policy initiatives related to Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education and the application of Title IX to STEM fields. This month's spotlight includes:

  • Department of Education Releases Technical Assistance Related to Title IX and STEM;
  • College Board Releases Its “Trends in Higher Education” Report;
  • NAE Blueprint Released Related to Women in Science in the Global Context;
  • Department Of Education Approves Idaho’s Request for NCLB Flexibility.

Department of Education Releases Technical Assistance Related to Title IX and STEM

In mid-October, the Department of Education released a new technical-assistance presentation related to Title IX, which is expected to “help academic STEM departments better understand their obligations regarding program access under Title IX.”  This presentation was developed in partnership with the Department of Justice, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), DOE, NSF, and the Department of Health and Human Services, and is a part of the Obama Administration’s Equal Futures Partnership commitment.  Please see the Washington Representative’s October column for more information about the Equal Future Partnership.

The technical assistance presentation is available at:

SWE and the Association for Women in Science (AWIS) are pleased with the development of this technical assistance, as it has been one of SWE’s and AWIS’s recommendations for several years.

Dr. John Holdren, the President’s Science Advisor, mentioned this new technical assistance in a recent blog post, which can be found at:

College Board Releases its "Trends In Higher Education" Report

On October 24, the College Board released its “Trends in Higher Education” report, which highlights trends in both student aid for the 2011-2012 school year and college pricing for the 2012-2013 school year. The report concluded that “while the 4.8 percent ($399) 2012-13 increase in published in-state tuition and fees at public four-year colleges and universities across the nation was lower than that of recent years, the rapid growth in federal aid — which for a few years actually reduced the average net prices students paid — has ended.”

In the previous two academic years, tuition and fees had increased by 8.4 and 8.0 percent, respectively.  The report also noted that a record 9.4 million students, 37 percent of all students in higher education, received a Pell Grant in the 2011-2012 academic year.

At the release, Sandy Baum, independent policy analyst for the College Board said, "colleges and universities, along with state and federal officials, share the concern of students and families grappling with the rising price of a college education.  Continued efforts to rein in costs and to provide sufficient public subsidies — both to public colleges and to students with financial need — are vital to the future of our society and our economy."

House Education and Workforce Ranking Member George Miller (D-CA) agreed, saying, “The College Board study shows that, with college costs continuing to rise, ensuring continued access to federal student aid programs must be a national priority.”

To review the College Board report, please visit:

NAE Blueprint Released Related to Women in Science in the Global Context

On October 18, the National Academies Committee on Women in Science, Engineering, and Medicine released a report entitled, “Blueprint for the Future: Framing the Issues of Women in Science in a Global Context.”

The project studied the status and participation of women in international STEM disciplines and careers, particularly in the fields of chemistry, computer science, and mathematics and statistics. Funded by the National Science Foundation, the project incorporated “social science methods to identify effective strategies, data, and important guidelines for implementing policies and procedures that will increase women’s participation and advancement in the global scientific enterprise.”

This report was the summary of the workshop the Committee held in April of 2011, which examined how different social, political, and economic mechanisms impact women’s participation in the global scientific enterprise by:

  • Reviewing the existing international knowledge base and exemplary policies and programs,
  • Identifying critical gaps in data and research literatures on women in the focused disciplines, and,
  • Pinpointing issues and topics for further research women in STEM fields that transcend national boundaries.

To conclude their analysis, the blueprint authors said, “Although these complex sociocultural factors often operate in different ways in various countries and regions, studies within and across nations consistently show inverse correlations between levels in the scientific and technical career hierarchy and the number of women in science: the higher the positions, the fewer the number of women. Understanding these complex patterns requires interdisciplinary and international approaches.”

The blueprint is now available at:

Department of Education Approves Idaho's Request for NCLB Flexibility

On October 17, the Department of Education approved Idaho’s request for flexibility from No Child Left Behind (NCLB) in exchange for a state-developed plan “to prepare all students for college and career, focus aid on the neediest students, and support effective teaching and leadership.”  With this addition, thirty-four states and the District of Columbia have now been granted waivers.

“With the addition of Idaho, a growing number of states nationwide are receiving much-needed flexibility from No Child Left Behind,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. “More than a million students are now captured by states’ new accountability systems, and we continue to see impressive reform plans from the local level will drive student achievement and ensure that all students are ready for college and their careers.”

Since 2007, NCLB has been due for Congressional reauthorization.  Due to the Congressional inaction, in September of 2011, President Obama announced that the Department of Education would grant waivers from NCLB to qualified states.  The first requests for waivers were granted in February of 2012.

The following thirty-four states (plus the District of Columbia) have been approved for waivers from NCLB: Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin.

Ten states (plus the Bureau of Indian Education and Puerto Rico) have outstanding requests for waivers.  They are: Alabama, Alaska, California, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, New Hampshire, North Dakota, and West Virginia.

Finally, the following states have not yet requested a waiver: Montana, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Wyoming. In addition, Vermont has withdrawn its request for a waiver.

For more information, please visit: