Ensuring all students have access to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education is fundamental to the U.S. Department of Education’s goal of providing equitable educational opportunities so that all students are prepared to succeed in college, careers, and life.

To further the goal of high-quality STEM education for all, federal agencies, state educational agencies (SEAs), local educational agencies (LEAs), and private-sector partners are encouraged to coordinate their efforts and to use modern research-based methods.

The USDoE Guidance Letter issued on Jan. 18, 2017 aims to help SEAs, LEAs, and their partners better understand how to use federal funds to support innovative, equity-focused pre-kindergarten through grade 12 (Pre-K–12) STEM education strategies under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA), as amended by Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).

This letter updates the previous guidance provided April 16, 2016, detailing possible uses of federal funds for the 2016–2017 school year under the ESEA, as amended by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB).

To help SEAs, LEAs, and their partners identify potential ways to use federal formula grant funds to support STEM education, this letter provides examples of how funds from title I, title II, title III, and title IV of the ESEA, as amended by the ESSA; the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA); and the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006 can support efforts to improve Pre-K–12 instruction and student outcomes in STEM fields.

These examples fall into the following categories:

  1. Increase students’ equitable access to STEM courses and experiences, including out-of- school programs, STEM-themed schools, and career pathways;
  2. Support educators’ knowledge and expertise in STEM disciplines through recruitment, preparation, support, and retention strategies; and
  3. Increase student access to materials and equipment needed to support inquiry-based pedagogy and active learning.

Enhancing the impact of STEM education programs and maximizing the impact of available federal resources necessitate leveraging various sources of support.

We encourage you to view the information provided in the Guidance Letter as a helpful tool in your efforts to provide access to high-quality STEM programs and resources as well as improve learning and achievement for all students.