H.R. 1020, STEM Education Act of 2015

H.R. 1020

STEM Education Act of 2015

Date
February 24, 2015 (114th Congress, 1st Session)

Staff Contact
David Smentek

Floor Situation

On Tuesday, February 24, 2015, the House will consider H.R. 1020, the STEM Education Act of 2015, under a suspension of the rules.  H.R. 1020 was introduced on February 20, 2015 by Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), Chairman of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee, and referred to the Science, Space, and Technology Committee.

Bill Summary

H.R. 1020 is similar to H.R. 5031, the STEM Education Act of 2014, which passed in the House on July 14, 2014.[1]

H.R. 1020 defines STEM education as education in the subjects of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, including computer science.[2]  This legislation directs the National Science Foundation (NSF) to continue to award competitive, merit-based grants to support research and development of innovative out-of-school STEM learning and research that advances the field of informal STEM education.  In addition, this legislation amends the Noyce Scholarship Program to allow teachers with a bachelor’s degree working toward a master’s degree to participate in the program.  H.R. 1020 expands the definition of qualifying fields under the Noyce Scholarship Program to include computer science.

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[1] See Congressional Record – July 14, 2014, at H6144.
[2] Note: This definition is to be used for activities at the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Background

“NSF’s dual mission is to support basic research and education in the non-medical sciences and engineering.”[3]  NSF is a major source of federal funding for basic research and research funding in environmental science, life science, mathematics, computer science, physical science, and social science.[4]  This legislation defines STEM education activities, for the purposes of NSF and other agencies, to include computer science, a field of growing importance the builds upon and furthers traditional STEM subjects.  The Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program, first authorized in the National Science Foundation Authorization Act of 2002, “provides funding to institutions of higher education to provide scholarships, stipends, and programmatic support to recruit and prepare STEM majors and professionals to become K-12 teachers.”[5]  This legislation expands the scope of eligible recipients for the scholarship, and includes computer science as an eligible field for scholarship funds.

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[3] Heather B. Gonzalez, “The National Science Foundation: Background and Selected Policy Issues,” Congressional Research Service (Jun. 5, 2014), at 1.
[4] Id. at 1.
[5] See Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program; http://nsfnoyce.org/

Cost

A preliminary CBO cost estimate estimated that implementing H.R. 1020 would not affect direct spending or revenue.

Additional Information

For questions or further information contact the GOP Conference at 5-5107.