Text: H.R.4979 — 116th Congress (2019-2020)All Information (Except Text)

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                                                 Union Calendar No. 319
116th CONGRESS
  2d Session
                                H. R. 4979

                          [Report No. 116-397]

 To direct the Director of the National Science Foundation to support 
  STEM education and workforce development research focused on rural 
                     areas, and for other purposes.


_______________________________________________________________________


                    IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

                            November 5, 2019

 Mr. Lucas (for himself, Mr. McAdams, Mr. Baird, Ms. Johnson of Texas, 
 Mr. Conaway, Ms. Kendra S. Horn of Oklahoma, Mr. Weber of Texas, Mr. 
  Balderson, Mr. Norman, Mr. Murphy of North Carolina, Mr. Comer, Mr. 
 Gonzalez of Ohio, and Mr. Waltz) introduced the following bill; which 
    was referred to the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology

                           February 13, 2020

 Additional sponsors: Mr. Marshall, Mr. Foster, Ms. Eshoo, Ms. Herrera 
    Beutler, Mr. Lamb, Mr. Babin, Mr. Rodney Davis of Illinois, Mr. 
  Peterson, Mr. Wittman, Ms. Wexton, Mr. Mooney of West Virginia, Mr. 
  Perlmutter, Mr. Stauber, Mr. Newhouse, Mrs. Axne, Mr. Delgado, Mr. 
    Kind, Mr. Emmer, Mr. Harder of California, Ms. Spanberger, Mrs. 
 Hartzler, Ms. Slotkin, Mr. David Scott of Georgia, Mr. Hagedorn, Mr. 
Crawford, Mr. Cole, Mrs. Hayes, Mr. LaMalfa, Mr. Dunn, Mr. Gottheimer, 
    Mr. Khanna, Mr. Cox of California, Mrs. Bustos, and Ms. Houlahan

                           February 13, 2020

  Reported with an amendment, committed to the Committee of the Whole 
       House on the State of the Union, and ordered to be printed
 [Strike out all after the enacting clause and insert the part printed 
                               in italic]
    [For text of introduced bill, see copy of bill as introduced on 
                           November 5, 2019]


_______________________________________________________________________

                                 A BILL


 
 To direct the Director of the National Science Foundation to support 
  STEM education and workforce development research focused on rural 
                     areas, and for other purposes.


 


    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the 
United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

    This Act may be cited as the ``Rural STEM Education Act''.

SEC. 2. FINDINGS.

    Congress finds the following:
            (1) The supply of STEM workers is not keeping pace with the 
        rapidly evolving needs of the public and private sector, 
        resulting in a deficit often referred to as a STEM skills 
        shortage.
            (2) According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the United 
        States will need one million additional STEM professionals than 
        it is on track to produce in the coming decade.
            (3) Many STEM occupations offer higher wages, more 
        opportunities for advancement, and a higher degree of job 
        security than non-STEM jobs.
            (4) The 60,000,000 individuals in the United States who 
        live in rural settings are significantly under-represented in 
        STEM.
            (5) According to the National Center for Education 
        Statistics, nine million students in the United States--nearly 
        20 percent of the total K-12 population--attend rural schools, 
        and for reasons ranging from teacher quality to shortages of 
        resources, these students often have fewer opportunities for 
        high-quality STEM learning than their peers in the Nation's 
        urban and suburban schools.
            (6) Rural areas represent one of the most promising, yet 
        underutilized, opportunities for STEM education to impact 
        workforce development and regional innovation, including 
        agriculture.
            (7) The study of agriculture, food, and natural resources 
        involves biology, engineering, physics, chemistry, math, 
        geology, computer science, and other scientific fields.
            (8) It is estimated that by 2020 that there will be a 
        projected one million more computing jobs than applicants who 
        can fill them. To meet this demand, rural students must acquire 
        computing skills through exposure to computer science learning 
        in grades PreK - 12 and in informal learning settings.
            (9) More than 293,000,000 individuals in the United States 
        use high-speed broadband to work, learn, access healthcare, and 
        operate their businesses, while 19,000,000 individuals in the 
        United States still lack access to high-speed broadband. Rural 
        areas are hardest hit, with over 26 percent of individuals in 
        rural areas in the United States lacking access to high-speed 
        broadband compared to 1.7 percent of individuals in urban areas 
        in the United States.

SEC. 3. NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION RURAL STEM ACTIVITIES.

    (a) Preparing Rural STEM Educators.--
            (1) In general.--The Director shall provide grants on a 
        merit-reviewed, competitive basis to institutions of higher 
        education or nonprofit organizations (or a consortium thereof) 
        for research and development to advance innovative approaches 
        to support and sustain high-quality STEM teaching in rural 
        schools.
            (2) Use of funds.--
                    (A) In general.--Grants awarded under this section 
                shall be used for the research and development 
                activities referred to in paragraph (1), which may 
                include--
                            (i) engaging rural educators of students in 
                        grades Pre-K through 12 in professional 
                        learning opportunities to enhance STEM 
                        knowledge, including computer science, and 
                        develop best practices;
                            (ii) supporting research on effective STEM 
                        teaching practices in rural settings, including 
                        the use of rubrics and mastery-based grading 
                        practices to assess student performance when 
                        employing the transdisciplinary teaching 
                        approach for STEM disciplines;
                            (iii) designing and developing pre-service 
                        and in-service training resources to assist 
                        such rural educators in adopting 
                        transdisciplinary teaching practices across 
                        STEM courses;
                            (iv) coordinating with local partners to 
                        adapt STEM teaching practices to leverage local 
                        natural and community assets in order to 
                        support in-place learning in rural areas;
                            (v) providing hands-on training and 
                        research opportunities for rural educators 
                        described in clause (i) at Federal 
                        Laboratories, institutions of higher education, 
                        or in industry;
                            (vi) developing training and best practices 
                        for educators who teach multiple grade levels 
                        within a STEM discipline;
                            (vii) designing and implementing 
                        professional development courses and 
                        experiences, including mentoring, for rural 
                        educators described in clause (i) that combine 
                        face-to-face and online experiences; and
                            (viii) any other activity the Director 
                        determines will accomplish the goals of this 
                        subsection.
                    (B) Rural stem collaborative.--The Director may 
                establish a pilot program of regional cohorts in rural 
                areas that will provide peer support, mentoring, and 
                hands-on research experiences for rural STEM educators 
                of students in grades Pre-K through 12, in order to 
                build an ecosystem of cooperation among educators, 
                researchers, academia, and local industry.
    (b) Broadening Participation of Rural Students in STEM.--
            (1) In general.--The Director shall provide grants on a 
        merit-reviewed, competitive basis to institutions of higher 
        education or nonprofit organizations (or a consortium thereof) 
        for--
                    (A) research and development of programming to 
                identify the barriers rural students face in accessing 
                high-quality STEM education; and
                    (B) development of innovative solutions to improve 
                the participation and advancement of rural students in 
                grades Pre-K through 12 in STEM studies.
            (2) Use of funds.--
                    (A) In general.--Grants awarded under this section 
                shall be used for the research and development 
                activities referred to in paragraph (1), which may 
                include--
                            (i) developing partnerships with community 
                        colleges to offer advanced STEM course work, 
                        including computer science, to rural high 
                        school students;
                            (ii) supporting research on effective STEM 
                        practices in rural settings;
                            (iii) implementing a school-wide STEM 
                        approach;
                            (iv) improving the National Science 
                        Foundation's Advanced Technology Education 
                        program's coordination and engagement with 
                        rural communities;
                            (v) collaborating with existing community 
                        partners and networks, such as the cooperative 
                        research and extension services of the 
                        Department of Agriculture and youth serving 
                        organizations like 4-H, after school STEM 
                        programs, and summer STEM programs, to leverage 
                        community resources and develop place-based 
                        programming;
                            (vi) connecting rural school districts and 
                        institutions of higher education, to improve 
                        precollegiate STEM education and engagement;
                            (vii) supporting partnerships that offer 
                        hands-on inquiry-based science activities, 
                        including coding, and access to lab resources 
                        for students studying STEM in grades Pre-K 
                        through 12 in a rural area;
                            (viii) evaluating the role of broadband 
                        connectivity and its associated impact on the 
                        STEM and technology literacy of rural students;
                            (ix) building capacity to support 
                        extracurricular STEM programs in rural schools, 
                        including mentor-led engagement programs, STEM 
                        programs held during nonschool hours, STEM 
                        networks, makerspaces, coding activities, and 
                        competitions; and
                            (x) any other activity the Director 
                        determines will accomplish the goals of this 
                        subsection.
    (c) Application.--An applicant seeking a grant under subsection (a) 
or (b) shall submit an application at such time, in such manner, and 
containing such information as the Director may require. The 
application may include the following:
            (1) A description of the target population to be served by 
        the research activity or activities for which such grant is 
        sought.
            (2) A description of the process for recruitment and 
        selection of students, educators, or schools from rural areas 
        to participate in such activity or activities.
            (3) A description of how such activity or activities may 
        inform efforts to promote the engagement and achievement of 
        rural students in grades PreK - 12 in STEM studies.
            (4) In the case of a proposal consisting of a partnership 
        or partnerships with one or more rural schools and one or more 
        researchers, a plan for establishing a sustained partnership 
        that is jointly developed and managed, draws from the 
        capacities of each partner, and is mutually beneficial.
    (d) Partnerships.--In awarding grants under subsection (a) or (b), 
the Director shall--
            (1) encourage applicants which, for the purpose of the 
        activity or activities funded through the grant, include or 
        partner with a nonprofit organization or an institution of 
        higher education (or a consortium thereof) that has extensive 
        experience and expertise in increasing the participation of 
        rural students in grades Pre-K through 12 in STEM;
            (2) encourage applicants which, for the purpose of the 
        activity or activities funded through the grant, include or 
        partner with a consortium of rural schools or rural school 
        districts; and
            (3) encourage applications which, for the purpose of the 
        activity or activities funded through the grant, include 
        commitments from school principals and administrators to making 
        reforms and activities proposed by the applicant a priority.
    (e) Evaluations.--All proposals for grants under subsections (a) 
and (b) shall include an evaluation plan that includes the use of 
outcome oriented measures to assess the impact and efficacy of the 
grant. Each recipient of a grant under this section shall include 
results from these evaluative activities in annual and final projects.
    (f) Accountability and Dissemination.--
            (1) Evaluation required.--The Director shall evaluate the 
        portfolio of grants awarded under subsections (a) and (b). Such 
        evaluation shall--
                    (A) use a common set of benchmarks and tools to 
                assess the results of research conducted under such 
                grants and identify best practices; and
                    (B) to the extent practicable, integrate the 
                findings of research resulting from the activity or 
                activities funded through such grants with the findings 
                of other research on rural student's pursuit of degrees 
                or careers in STEM.
            (2) Report on evaluations.--Not later than 180 days after 
        the completion of the evaluation under paragraph (1), the 
        Director shall submit to Congress and make widely available to 
        the public a report that includes--
                    (A) the results of the evaluation; and
                    (B) any recommendations for administrative and 
                legislative action that could optimize the 
                effectiveness of the grants awarded under this section.
    (g) Report by Committee on Equal Opportunities in Science and 
Engineering.--
            (1) In general.--As part of the first report required by 
        section 36(e) of the Science and Engineering Equal 
        Opportunities Act (42 U.S.C. 1885c(e)) transmitted to Congress 
        after the date of enactment of this Act, the Committee on Equal 
        Opportunities in Science and Engineering shall include--
                    (A) a description of past and present policies and 
                activities of the Foundation to encourage full 
                participation of students in rural communities in 
                science, mathematics, engineering, and computer science 
                fields; and
                    (B) an assessment of trends in participation of 
                rural students in grades Pre-K through 12 in Foundation 
                activities, and an assessment of the policies and 
                activities of the Foundation, along with proposals for 
                new strategies or the broadening of existing successful 
                strategies towards facilitating the goals of this Act.
            (2) Technical correction.--
                    (A) In general.--Section 313 of the American 
                Innovation and Competitiveness Act (Public Law 114-329) 
                is amended by striking ``Section 204(e) of the National 
                Science Foundation Authorization Act of 1988'' and 
                inserting ``Section 36(e) of the Science and 
                Engineering Equal Opportunities Act''.
                    (B) Applicability.--The amendment made by paragraph 
                (1) shall take effect as if included in the enactment 
                of section 313 of the American Innovation and 
                Competitiveness Act (Public Law 114-329).
    (h) Coordination.--In carrying out this section, the Director 
shall, for purposes of enhancing program effectiveness and avoiding 
duplication of activities, consult, cooperate, and coordinate with the 
programs and policies of other relevant Federal agencies.
    (i) Authorization of Appropriations.--There are authorized to be 
appropriated to the Director--
            (1) $8,000,000 to carry out the activities under subsection 
        (a) for each of fiscal years 2020 through 2025; and
            (2) $12,000,000 to carry out the activities under 
        subsection (b) for each of fiscal years 2020 through 2025.

SEC. 4. OPPORTUNITIES FOR ONLINE EDUCATION.

    (a) In General.--The Director shall award competitive grants to 
institutions of higher education or nonprofit organizations (or a 
consortium thereof, which may include a private sector partner) to 
conduct research on online STEM education courses for rural 
communities.
    (b) Research Areas.--The research areas eligible for funding under 
this subsection shall include--
            (1) evaluating the learning and achievement of rural 
        students in grades Pre-K through 12 in STEM subjects;
            (2) understanding how computer-based and online 
        professional development courses and mentor experiences can be 
        integrated to meet the needs of educators of rural students in 
        grades Pre-K through 12;
            (3) combining computer-based and online STEM education and 
        training with apprenticeships, mentoring, or other applied 
        learning arrangements;
            (4) leveraging online programs to supplement STEM studies 
        for rural students that need physical and academic 
        accommodation; and
            (5) any other activity the Director determines will 
        accomplish the goals of this subsection.
    (c) Evaluations.--All proposals for grants under this section shall 
include an evaluation plan that includes the use of outcome oriented 
measures to assess the impact and efficacy of the grant. Each recipient 
of a grant under this section shall include results from these 
evaluative activities in annual and final projects.
    (d) Accountability and Dissemination.--
            (1) Evaluation required.--The Director shall evaluate the 
        portfolio of grants awarded under this section. Such evaluation 
        shall--
                    (A) use a common set of benchmarks and tools to 
                assess the results of research conducted under such 
                grants and identify best practices; and
                    (B) to the extent practicable, integrate findings 
                from activities carried out pursuant to research 
                conducted under this section, with respect to the 
                pursuit of careers and degrees in STEM, with those 
                activities carried our pursuant to other research on 
                serving rural students and communities.
            (2) Report on evaluations.--Not later than 180 days after 
        the completion of the evaluation under paragraph (1), the 
        Director shall submit to Congress and make widely available to 
        the public a report that includes--
                    (A) the results of the evaluation; and
                    (B) any recommendations for administrative and 
                legislative action that could optimize the 
                effectiveness of the grants awarded under this section.
    (e) Coordination.--In carrying out this section, the Director 
shall, for purposes of enhancing program effectiveness and avoiding 
duplication of activities, consult, cooperate, and coordinate with the 
programs and policies of other relevant Federal agencies.

SEC. 5. NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES EVALUATION.

    (a) Study.--Not later than 12 months after the date of enactment of 
this Act, the Director shall enter into an agreement with the National 
Academy of Sciences under which the National Academy agrees to conduct 
an evaluation and assessment that--
            (1) evaluates the quality and quantity of current Federal 
        programming and research directed at examining STEM education 
        for students in grades Pre-K through 12 and workforce 
        development in rural areas;
            (2) assesses the impact of the scarcity of broadband 
        connectivity in rural communities has on STEM and technical 
        literacy for students in grades Pre-K through 12 in rural 
        areas;
            (3) assesses the core research and data needed to 
        understand the challenges rural areas are facing in providing 
        quality STEM education and workforce development; and
            (4) makes recommendations for action at the Federal, State, 
        and local levels for improving STEM education for students in 
        grades Pre-K through 12 and workforce development in rural 
        areas.
    (b) Report to Director.--The agreement entered into under 
subsection (a) shall require the National Academy of Sciences, not 
later than 24 months after the date of enactment of this Act, to submit 
to the Director a report on the study conducted under such subsection, 
including the National Academy's findings and recommendations.
    (c) Authorization of Appropriations.--There are authorized to be 
appropriated to the Director to carry out this section $1,000,000 for 
fiscal year 2020.

SEC. 6. GAO REVIEW.

    Not later than 3 years after the date of enactment of this Act, the 
Comptroller General of the United States shall conduct a study on the 
engagement of rural populations in Federal STEM programs and submit to 
Congress a report that includes--
            (1) an assessment of how Federal STEM education programs 
        are serving rural populations;
            (2) a description of initiatives carried out by Federal 
        agencies that are targeted at supporting STEM education in 
        rural areas;
            (3) an assessment of what is known about the impact and 
        effectiveness of Federal investments in STEM education programs 
        that are targeted to rural areas; and
            (4) an assessment of challenges that state and Federal STEM 
        education programs face in reaching rural population centers.

SEC. 7. CAPACITY BUILDING THROUGH EPSCOR.

    Section 517(f)(2) of the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 
2010 (42 U.S.C. 1862p-9(f)(2)) is amended--
            (1) in subparagraph (A), by striking ``and'' at the end; 
        and
            (2) by adding at the end the following:
                    ``(C) to increase the capacity of rural communities 
                to provide quality STEM education and STEM workforce 
                development programming to students, and teachers; 
                and''.

SEC. 8. NIST ENGAGEMENT WITH RURAL COMMUNITIES.

    (a) MEP Outreach.--Section 25 of the National Institute of 
Standards and Technology Act (15 U.S.C. 278k) is amended--
            (1) in subsection (c)--
                    (A) in paragraph (6), by striking ``community 
                colleges and area career and technical education 
                schools'' and inserting the following: ``secondary 
                schools (as defined in section 8101 of the Elementary 
                and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 7801)), 
                community colleges, and area career and technical 
                education schools, including those in underserved and 
                rural communities,''; and
                    (B) in paragraph (7)--
                            (i) by striking ``and local colleges'' and 
                        inserting the following: ``local high schools 
                        and local colleges, including those in 
                        underserved and rural communities,''; and
                            (ii) by inserting ``or other applied 
                        learning opportunities'' after 
                        ``apprenticeships''; and
            (2) in subsection (d)(3) by striking ``, community 
        colleges, and area career and technical education schools,'' 
        and inserting the following: ``and local high schools, 
        community colleges, and area career and technical education 
        schools, including those in underserved and rural 
        communities,''.
    (b) Rural Connectivity Prize Competition.--
            (1) Prize competition.--Pursuant to section 24 of the 
        Stevenson-Wydler Technology Innovation Act of 1980 (15 U.S.C. 
        3719), the Secretary of Commerce, acting through the Under 
        Secretary of Commerce for Standards and Technology (referred to 
        in this subsection as the ``Secretary''), shall carry out a 
        program to award prizes competitively to stimulate research and 
        development of creative technologies in order to deploy 
        affordable and reliable broadband connectivity to underserved 
        rural communities.
            (2) Plan for deployment in rural communities.--Each 
        proposal submitted pursuant to paragraph (1) shall include a 
        plan for deployment of the technology that is the subject of 
        such proposal in an underserved rural community.
            (3) Prize amount.--In carrying out the program under 
        paragraph (1), the Secretary may award not more than a total of 
        $5,000,000 to one or more winners of the prize competition.
            (4) Report.--Not later than 60 days after the date on which 
        a prize is awarded under the prize competition, the Secretary 
        shall submit to the relevant committees of Congress a report 
        that describes the winning proposal of the prize competition.
            (5) Consultation.--In carrying out the program under 
        subsection (a), the Secretary may consult with the heads of 
        relevant departments and agencies of the Federal Government.

SEC. 9. NITR-D BROADBAND WORKING GROUP.

    Title I of the High-Performance Computing Act of 1991 (15 U.S.C. 
5511 et seq.) is amended by adding at the end the following:

``SEC. 103. BROADBAND RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT WORKING GROUP.

    ``(a) In General.--The Director shall establish a broadband 
research and development working group to address national research 
challenges and opportunities for improving broadband access and 
adoption across the United States. 
    ``(b) Activities.--The working group shall identify and coordinate 
key research priorities for addressing broadband access and adoption, 
including--
            ``(1) promising research areas;
            ``(2) requirements for data collection and sharing;
            ``(3) opportunities for better alignment and coordination 
        across Federal agencies and external stakeholders; and
            ``(4) input on the development of new Federal policies and 
        programs to enhance data collection and research.
    ``(c) Coordination.--The working group shall coordinate, as 
appropriate, with the Rural Broadband Integration Working Group 
established under section 6214 of the Agriculture Improvement Act of 
2018 (Public Law 115-334) and the National Institute of Food and 
Agriculture of the Department of Agriculture.
    ``(d) Report.--The working group shall report to Congress on their 
activities as part of the annual report submitted under section 
101(a)(2)(D).
    ``(e) Sunset.--The authority to carry out this section shall 
terminate on the date that is 5 years after the date of enactment of 
the Rural STEM Education Act.''.

SEC. 10. DEFINITIONS.

    In this Act:
            (1) Director.--The term ``Director'' means the Director of 
        the National Science Foundation established under section 2 of 
        the National Science Foundation Act of 1950 (42 U.S.C. 1861).
            (2) Federal laboratory.--The term ``Federal laboratory'' 
        has the meaning given such term in section 4 of the Stevenson-
        Wydler Technology Innovation Act of 1980 (15 U.S.C. 3703).
            (3) Foundation.--The term ``Foundation'' means the National 
        Science Foundation established under section 2 of the National 
        Science Foundation Act of 1950 (42 U.S.C. 1861).
            (4) Institution of higher education.--The term 
        ``institution of higher education'' has the meaning given such 
        term in section 101(a) of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (20 
        U.S.C. 1001(a)).
            (5) STEM.--The term ``STEM'' has the meaning given the term 
        in section 2 of the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 
        2010 (42 U.S.C. 6621 note).
            (6) STEM education.--The term ``STEM education'' has the 
        meaning given the term in section 2 of the STEM Education Act 
        of 2015 (42 U.S.C. 6621 note).
                                                 Union Calendar No. 319

116th CONGRESS

  2d Session

                               H. R. 4979

                          [Report No. 116-397]

_______________________________________________________________________

                                 A BILL

 To direct the Director of the National Science Foundation to support 
  STEM education and workforce development research focused on rural 
                     areas, and for other purposes.

_______________________________________________________________________

                           February 13, 2020

  Reported with an amendment, committed to the Committee of the Whole 
       House on the State of the Union, and ordered to be printed

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