STEM 2026: A Vision for Innovation in STEM Education

A strong science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education is becoming increasingly recognized as a key driver of opportunity, and data show the need for STEM knowledge and skills will grow and continue into the future. This report summarizes the results of discussion-based workshops where 30 experts and thought leaders in STEM teaching and learning were invited to exchange ideas and develop recommendations for the future of STEM education, an aspirational vision—“STEM 2026”—for STEM education to promote lifelong learning among all youth and in all communities.

Female technical student at whiteboardGraduates who have practical and relevant STEM precepts embedded into their educational experiences will be in high demand in all job sectors. But persistent inequities in access, participation, and success in STEM subjects that exist along racial, socioeconomic, gender, and geographic lines, as well as among students with disabilities, threaten the nation’s ability to close education and poverty gaps, meet the demands of a technology-driven economy, ensure national security, and maintain preeminence in scientific research and technological innovation.

In recognition of the widening skills and opportunity gaps in STEM, the Obama Administration has initiated several efforts to motivate action. This report is a complementary effort, resulting from a Department-led effort to gain insight into the latest research and thinking about how to improve STEM teaching and learning, including how to ensure the engagement and success of the full diversity of the nation’s learners.

The STEM 2026 vision presented in the report is meant only as starting point upon which key stakeholder groups, including policymakers,  researchers, educators, and industry leaders, as well as the broader public, can build.

The report also describes in more detail the six interconnected components of STEM 2026, and the challenges and opportunities for innovation related to converting these components into widespread practice:

  • Engaged and networked communities of practice.
  • Accessible learning activities that invite intentional play and risk.
  • Educational experiences that include interdisciplinary approaches to solving “grand challenges.”
  • Flexible and inclusive learning spaces.
  • Innovative and accessible measures of learning.
  • Societal and cultural images and environments that promote diversity and opportunity in STEM.

For more information, contact Courtney Tanenbaum (AIR) or Russell Shilling (U.S. Department of Education).

Follow all AIR's STEM work >>