Kansas teachers and lawmakers have at least one very important thing in common. Both are committed to finding ways to ensure Kansas students become well prepared members of the future workforce.
Their commitment mirrors that of the Kauffman Foundation, which understands the importance of policy decisions and their impact as they relate to math, engineering, technology, and science education. That’s why the Foundation funded the creation of a comprehensive document summarizing important data, trends, and information gaps as a resource for the Kansas Legislature's Advisory Committee on Mathematics, Science and Innovation.
The data book, titled "The Talent Imperative: Building Kansas’ Capacity in Mathematics, Engineering, Technology, and Science," was published in January and prepared by Building Engineering and Science Talent (BEST), an independent, San Diego-based nonprofit specializing in education and workforce development in technical fields. BEST worked closely with the Kansas Board of Regents, Departments of Education and Commerce, and Kansas, Inc. in compiling the data.
The seventy-seven-page document now serves as an important tool for the Advisory Committee as they inform education policy decisions in the 2008 legislative session and beyond. It provides crucial insight surrounding two basic questions:
- Why does building capacity in math, engineering, technology, and science (METS) matter to the nation as a whole, and the state of Kansas in particular?
- Where does Kansas stand in regard to METS achievement and preparation?
Although the teaching profession has had historic appeal in Kansas, a number of factors have converged in recent years to put the math and science teacher corps under increasing pressure. These include the high-stakes testing and accountability provisions of No Child Left Behind, the influx of English language learners, the aging of the current teacher workforce, the lag in teacher salaries relative to other professions, and the aggressive recruitment practices of school districts outside the state. The data book highlights some of the key forces at work.
"We understand how important it is that policymakers make decisions that are informed by sound and timely data," says Mike English, a senior analyst at the Kauffman Foundation. "This document doesn’t make legislative recommendations, but it provides legislators with a common source of METS data in order to better inform policy decisions intended to ultimately benefit students in Kansas."The Kansas data book is available as a free download