America COMPETES Act of 2007

The provisions of The America COMPETES Act of 2007 covered a wide range of activities of a great number of federal agencies and offices including the Office of Science and Technology Policy (Title I), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Title II), the National Institute of Standards and Technology (Title III), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA, Title IV), the Department of Energy (Title V), and the National Science Foundation (Title VII). In many places, the Act mandates that each agency cooperate with its partner agencies and offices, and it calls attention to the importance of high-risk, high-reward research in areas of critical national need.

General Provisions
The America COMPETES Act of 2007 has many provisions in its 146 pages.
It created the President's Council on Innovation and Competitiveness (Title I, Sec. 1006). This council appears never to have been formed. Instead, the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) was formed in 2010 by President Obama to serve in its place. This committee is also known as the President's Innovation and Technology Advisory Committee.

It called for a National Science and Technology Summit (Title I, Sec. 1001) and numerous reports on the state of innovation and competitiveness in the United States (e.g., Sec. 1002, 1005, 1006, 1007, 2006, 3004, 3005, 3011, 7007, 7010, 7014, 7016, 7032) and assessments of each unit's effective support of the Act's science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education agenda (e.g., Sec. 2001.f, 3011)

In several places, it called for the enhancement of research capabilities and coordination (e.g., Sec. 2003, 5006, 5011) and emphasized the importance of undergraduate research experiences as tools that promote careers in STEM fields (e.g., Sec. 2005, 7025).

The Act also sets baselines for targeted funding appropriations (e.g., Sec 3001, 5004.f, 5005, 5007, 5008, 5009, 5012, 6115, 6116, 6304, 6502, 7002) which range from overall levels of funding for an agency or targeting funding for new programs to be delivered by a given agency. Of special note is the Act's goal of doubling the annual appropriations for the National Science Foundation by the year 2011.

Education Provisions
The Act pays considerable attention to the efforts each agency makes in the area of educating future STEM wage workers, sometimes through amendments made to other Acts (e.g., Sec 5003.a, 3015, 4002, 5004), a general technique which is used in several places in the Act. In addition, the Act devotes considerable space to education and places it at the same level of prominence in the Act as the Federal agencies mentioned above (i.e., as Title VI). Title VI, Subtitle A of the Act is titled "Teacher Assistance" and is divided into parts, each of which address separate provisions:

"Part I: Teachers for a Competitive Tomorrow." Will develop and implement programs that will increase the production of professionals with both a baccalaureate degree in STEM and critical foreign languages and teaching certification (e.g., programs modeled off of the University of Texas, Austin's UTeach program); will develop 2-3 year part-time masters programs in teaching for such professionals to enhance their content knowledge and pedagogical skills; and will develop professional science master's degree programs.

"Part II: Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate Programs." Will raise the achievement of secondary students through AP and IB programs by increasing by 700,000 (by 2008) the number of teachers qualified to teach AP and IB in STEM and critical foreign languages; will, increase by 700,000 the number of students from high-need schools who either (1) score higher than a 2 on STEM or critical foreign language AP exams as administered by the College Board, or (2) earn a passing score on an analogous IB exam; will increase the availability of and enrollment in AP and IB courses and pre-AB and pre-IB courses in high-need schools.

"Part III: Promising Practices in STEM Teaching." Established a panel of experts to provide information on promising practices for strengthening teaching and learning in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics at the elementary school and secondary school levels.

Title Vi, Subtitle B of the Act is titled Mathematics. Its purpose is to enable all elementary and middle school students to reach or exceed grade-level academic achievement standards and to prepare the students to enroll in and pass algebra; to provide summer term programs in mathematics, technology, and problem-solving; and to provide targeted support for low-income and special needs middle school students and their teachers. Subtitle C of the Act is titled Foreign Language Partnership Program". It will increase the opportunities to study critical foreign languages and the context in which the critical foreign languages are spoken; and increase the number of American students who achieve the highest level of proficiency in critical foreign languages. Subtitle D of the Act is called Alignment of Education Programs, and it aims to coordinate learning outcomes and assessments across State and Federal stakeholders. Subtitle D of the Act, called Mathematics and Science Partnership Bonus Grants, sets out modest (e.g., $50,000) awards to high-need schools in each state which show the greatest improvement on the State's assessment in mathematics, and another for the greatest improvement on the State's assessment in science.

Provisions for the National Science Foundation
Title VII addresses the National Science Foundation directly. The National Science Foundations is the only American federal agency whose mission includes support for all fields of fundamental science and engineering, except for medical sciences, so it reasonable for both the America COMPETES Act of 2007 and this article to single out the agency.

In Sec. 6002, the Act makes specific provisions on the appropriation for the following NSF programs in FY2008 through FY2010: the Major Research Instrumentation program, the Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Program, the Research Experiences for Undergraduates program, the Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research, the Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship program, the Graduate Research Fellowship program, a new the professional science master's degree program, for Mathematics and Science Education Partnerships, the Robert Noyce Scholarship Program, the Science, Mathematics, Engineering, and Technology Talent Expansion Program, and the Advanced Technological Education program. The NSF's FY2008 appropriation is set at $6.6 billion by this Act, and the appropriation grows to $8.132 billion in FY2010.
The Act mandates new proposal requirements such as a mentoring plan for all postdoctoral positions (Sec. 7008), that each institution receiving NSF funds for STEM research or education have a plan to provide training on the responsible conduct of research to undergraduates, graduate students, and postdoctoral researchers (Sec. 7009), and the sharing of final project reports (Sec. 7010, 7011).

It also appears that research directorates are being directed to share some of the cost of the educational work of the NSF (e.g., Section 7025).

The Act mandates that the NSF commission a report from the National Academies of Sciences about barriers to increasing the number of underrepresented minorities in STEM fields and to identify strategies for bringing more underrepresented minorities into the STEM workforce (Sec. 7032).