Positioning the United States for Scientific and
Technological Leadership and for Workforce
Productivity in the Twenty-First Century

"Education has been at the heart of America's progress for over 200 years. Let us pledge to give our children the best education in the world, and the support they need to build strong futures, higher standards in our schools, more choices, and the opportunity for all Americans to go on to college."

--President Bill Clinton

Science, mathematics, engineering, and technology today permeate the 
classroom, the home, the boardroom, manufacturing, services, and the 
entertainment world. The information revolution, spawned by striking 
scientific and technological advances, has triggered profound social and 
economic changes throughout the world, resulting in an intensely 
competitive global marketplace, with prime job opportunities 
increasingly available only to those with technical and critical 
thinking skills. The degree to which our nation prospers in the 
twenty-first century will depend upon our abilities to develop 
scientific and technical talent in our youth, to provide lifelong 
learning to a well-educated workforce able to embrace the rapid pace of 
technological change, and to raise the level of public scientific and 
technological literacy. 
The core responsibility of government in human resource development is to strengthen America's educational system, from grade school through graduate school. Our institutions of learning - schools, two- and four-year colleges, and universities - assume a central role in a knowledge-based economy. Access to these institutions must be achievable for all those with talent and commitment. In addition, all children, irrespective of socioeconomic background, must have the physical, cognitive, social, and emotional development that is a prerequisite for effective learning. Quality of education and equality of educational opportunity are central to our political future as well as to producing the workforce needed to maintain American leadership in the next century.
While these observations apply across the educational spectrum, mathematics, science, and technology education acquire increased importance in the information age. The recently released results of the Third International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS), cosponsored by the Department of Education and the National Science Foundation (NSF), show that we need to upgrade American students' knowledge and skills in these subjects. In comparison with counterparts in 40 other countries, American eighth grade students performed about average - slightly below in math, slightly above in science - and far behind the leaders. The study points to the need for curricula focused on developing problem-solving ability and analytical reasoning, the very skills needed for a changing, technology-dominated workplace. The commitment to rigorous content and performance standards embodied in the Goals 2000 legislation remains the key to both quality and equality. In addition, the diffusion of information technology into the classroom will, over time, better match instructional technique with the twenty-first century work environment. These initiatives are part of government's responsibility to create the prospect of a bright future for each of our children.
In the final analysis, the Federal government can foster human resource development only in partnership with teachers, workers, state and local government, academia, and business. Indeed, much of the leadership will necessarily come from those ranks. The Administration simply seeks a shared commitment to this crucial investment in our collective future - quality and equality of educational opportunity.


Maintaining leadership across the frontiers of science and producing the finest scientists and engineers for the twenty-first century are principal goals of this Administration's science and technology policies. The American higher education system is justifiably envied for its excellence in advanced training in science and engineering.
The tight weave of research and education that exists in our research universities, fostered by bipartisan support for half a century, has served the nation exceptionally well. It is our responsibility to maintain strong, competitively awarded, basic research programs at colleges and universities to provide both new knowledge and new scientists and engineers ready to contribute to all sectors of the economy.
The Administration is also committed to furthering study and research abroad by our scientists and engineers. In recent decades, the United States has been the world's leading host of international students and researchers. As other nations advance on the frontiers of science and technology, our scientists and engineers must keep abreast of international scientific developments to sustain our world-class scientific leadership.
Although our research universities remain unmatched, there have been numerous indications that stress on these institutions is increasing. The sources of stress are varied, reflecting the broader societal transformations affecting many institutions. Given the importance of the research universities and of the strong university-government partnership aimed at advancing science and technology in the national interest, the Administration is heeding a call from the President's Committee of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) for a government-wide policy and administrative review of the partnership. That partnership - extending deep into the past century, when the Land Grant universities were founded - has been transformed over the last half century into the core element of our world-leading science and technology enterprise.
A multi-agency task force convened under the auspices of the National Science and Technology Council (NSTC) will: (1) identify major stresses in the areas of research, education, and administrative regulations; and (2) determine what the Federal government's role should be in addressing issues raised by this examination. The task force findings and recommendations will be presented in the summer of 1997.
The study may also review the mechanisms used to support graduate students, since the Federal government supports 20 percent of those enrolled in U.S. institutions. Since the late 1960s, the form of graduate support has shifted significantly from fellowships and traineeships, to research assistantships. Each of these mechanisms vests responsibility for the graduate training experience in different system participants. The portability of fellowships is attractive to the recipients, while assistantships delegate responsibility for the graduate research experience to faculty principal investigators. Traineeships provide funds to departments or programs with the expectation that a cadre of faculty will share responsibility for training new Ph.D.s, typically in emerging interdisciplinary research specialties or in areas of national need as identified by Federal agency missions. The optimal mix for developing the nation's scientific and engineering human capital needs to be revisited.
As we work to develop the finest scientists and engineers for the twenty-first century, human resources policy must move beyond simply the supply and demand of personnel and address the composition of the science and engineering workforce. Achieving diversity throughout the ranks of the scientific and technical workforce presents a formidable challenge; the number of women and minorities in science and engineering, relative even to professions such as medicine and law, remains low. We need to draw upon the full talent pool.
In most science fields, women receive a disproportionately smaller number of degrees than men. By the early 1990s, women were awarded 28 percent of the doctorates in science and engineering combined, with great variations by broad field - one of every two awarded in the social and behavioral sciences, one in four in the natural sciences, one in ten in engineering. Predictably, this translates into under-representation of women in the academic workforce, again with wide variations by field and institution type. At research and doctoral institutions, women represent 35 percent of the non-science and engineering faculty. Among science and engineering fields, women's faculty presence ranges from less than 6 percent in engineering and 8 percent in the physical sciences to over 20 percent in the biological and social sciences and over 40 percent in psychology. The picture in 1993 is similar in comprehensive and liberal arts institutions and in public and two-year institutions, except that the women are better represented in all fields.
Participation of racial and ethnic minorities and persons with disabilities leaves much room for improvement and continued policy considerations. At all degree levels in U.S. science and engineering, African-Americans, Hispanics, and Native Americans remain under-represented. In any given year of this decade, minorities awarded the Ph.D. in a science or engineering field still number in the tens. The trend in minority admissions and degree awards is not encouraging. Thus, the pool of prospective faculty is not increasing fast enough.
Today, the science and engineering workforce hardly reflects the face of America. But by 2010, about half of America's school-age population will be from minority groups, emphasizing the importance to the nation of broader participation in science and engineering careers. Expanding such participation will require drawing on and developing talent at all stages of educational preparation leading to advanced study. For example, only a small fraction (perhaps one-eighth) of all high school graduates have the mathematics and science preparation that would permit advanced study in a technical field; for under represented minorities, the fraction is only half as much.
The work of individuals and organizations to inspire and mentor young people, and offer role models is crucial. To recognize this, the annual Presidential Awards in Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Mentoring were established in 1996. Ten individuals and six organizations were honored for their outstanding mentoring efforts that have encouraged significant numbers of minorities, women, and disabled persons to succeed in these fields.


Workplace and societal changes driven by technological advances are, if anything, accelerating. The increased value placed on acquiring, manipulating, and communicating data and knowledge increasingly places work not in a particular geographical location but wherever the knowledgeable and skilled workforce resides. For example, the number of telecommuters just in the United States has been growing at 15 percent per year and now exceeds ten million. Industrial jobs are rapidly being transformed into technology jobs. About half of California's workers are now "wired," using information technology as a core part of their work. In addition, analysis of major policy issues facing the citizenry, whether in the arena of health care or social policy or national defense or the environment, increasingly requires some familiarity with science and technology.
The Administration, recognizing the importance of these issues to a vibrant economy and society, has moved aggressively to raise each individual's opportunity for success in our increasingly technology-based economy. For example, the School-to-Work Opportunities Act promotes improvements in the way students are prepared for careers, college, and citizenship. The integration of school-based and work-based learning in a school-to-work system makes learning relevant and enhances chances for a successful transition from school to the workforce.

Information technology has revolutionized America's businesses. Sixty percent of the new jobs in the year 2020 will require skills possessed by only 22 percent of our workers today. The degree to which our nation flourishes in the twenty-first century will rest upon our success in developing a well-educated workforce able to embrace the rapid pace of technological change. The FY 1998 budget includes a second installment for the President's new five-year, $2 billion Technology Literacy Challenge Fund to encourage States and communities, working with private sector partners, to develop and implement plans for fully integrating educational technology into their school criteria.

We must retrain displaced workers if we are to fully develop our human resources in the next century. A recent study in Pennsylvania demonstrated that for each year of education provided through a special program for older displaced workers, earnings increased by 7 percent. A major study of the Job Training Partnership Act found that the Title II-A program for economically disadvantaged adults increased earnings by 8 percent for adult males and 15 percent for adult females, compared to non-participants 30 months after program entry. The Administration has proposed a "Middle Class Bill of Rights" to ensure that individual Americans have the opportunity to upgrade their skills by returning to school or by obtaining the training they need for new jobs.
The Administration also is encouraging consolidation of employment and training programs through grants to states to implement "one stop career development centers" where American workers can discover new employment opportunities, learn about new training programs, and apply for financial assistance from such programs. In addition, the Administration has proposed legislation - the G.I. Bill for America's Workers - to consolidate education and training programs at national and local levels, mandate the provision of training vouchers for dislocated workers, and create a system of high-quality information on the performance of education and training providers. The overall purpose is to create a more effective, market-driven education and training system for workers.
Access to postsecondary education - college, community college, and vocational schools - has been improved by an expanded Pell Grant Program for needy students, as well as through student loan reforms that reduce the overall cost of college loans for both taxpayers and students. The Direct Loan Program has a broad range of repayment options, including income-contingent repayment, under which students may repay their loans as a percentage of their income, without fear of defaulting on their loan. The Administration has supported savings in both the guaranteed and direct student loan programs, which have been enacted by Congress and will save both taxpayers and students billions of dollars by the year 2000 by reducing or eliminating subsidies to financial middlemen. The Administration has also proposed a tax credit of $1,500 for the first year of college, as well as a tax deduction of up to $10,000 annually per family for education and training expenses.


Over the past decade, technology has pervaded virtually every aspect of our daily lives. Yet the opportunities for American students to learn about and from rapidly advancing technology are severely limited in our classrooms. The U.S. Department of Education estimates that only 4 percent of schools had one computer for every five students and only 9 percent of classrooms were connected to the Internet. In schools with large concentrations of low-income students, the percentages are even lower.
In 1995 President Clinton challenged the nation's parents, teachers, and business and community leaders to work together to ensure that all American children are technologically literate by the dawn of the twenty-first century. Such literacy constitutes the ability to use computers and other technology that improves learning, productivity, and performance. It is a "survival kit" necessary for success in the twenty-first century. The Administration's Technology Innovation Challenge Grants program, funded at $57 million in FY1997, encourages communities to form local partnerships to develop and implement innovative applications of educational technology. Federal funds leverage local resources by more than three to one.
The President's $2 billion, five-year Technology Literacy Challenge Fund, first funded in 1997, provides formula grants to states to stimulate public-private sector partnerships focused on fully integrating technology into teaching and learning. The Challenge Fund complements the Challenge Grants and helps ensure that all students have the skills they will need to succeed in the new century. All students if they are to perform well across the curricula - in mathematics, reading and social studies - need scientific and technological literacy. Today's interactive software and online resources can be invaluable tools to help students learn and teachers teach.
The Challenge Fund will help fulfill four Administration goals:

  • All teachers will have the training and support to help their students learn to use computers and the information superhighway.
  • All students and teachers will have access to state-of-the-art multimedia computers in their classrooms.
  • Every classroom will be connected to the information superhighway, making the nation's rich research and cultural resources available to students and teachers wherever they are located.
  • Affordable software and online learning resources will be high-quality, learner-centered, and related to the school's curriculum and new standards.

The Technology Literacy Challenge Fund helps states and local communities create and implement their own plans for integrating educational technology into their school curricula.
In its leadership role, the Federal government will conduct the necessary research and development to support teachers' professional development. It will also play a critical role in helping to close the "digital divide" between the technology "haves' and "have nots." Under the leadership of Vice President Gore, the private sector, working with Tech Corps, a national organization that supports private sector volunteers, assists schools with integrating technology into classrooms. The U.S. Department of Education's six Regional Technology in Education Consortia that provide technical assistance in the development and implementation of educational technology, plan to connect every school in the nation's 15 Empowerment Zones to the information superhighway.
Many Federal agencies are making public investments in educational technology to benefit our nation's schools. The Department of Commerce's Telecommunications and Information Infrastructure Assistance Program provides grants to develop telecommunications networks for education and other nonprofit services. To meet rural students' needs, the Department of Agriculture supports telecommunications links to provide access to advanced courses. The National Science Foundation funds programs to demonstrate how electronic networks can best support systemic education reforms and improve K-12 science and mathematics education. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration in conjunction with the National Science Foundation, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of the Interior, and the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration supports the Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment (GLOBE) program. GLOBE links students, educators, and scientists around the world through the Internet to share collected data from their individual environmental observations. These programs and others are helping our classrooms resemble more closely the twenty-first century workplace.


A key goal for the longterm is upgrading our entire system of K-12 education to meet the changing demands of the global marketplace. As long ago as 1954, Walter Lippmann observed: "Our educational effort has not been raised to the plateau of the age we live in... We must measure it not by what would be easy and convenient to do, but by what it is necessary to do in order that the nation may survive and flourish." The technology and information revolution has raised the level of need to yet another plateau, one where even classroom teaching tools must incorporate the new technologies.
The workplace and citizenship needs of the twenty-first century require that our students excel at the highest levels in math, science, reading, and writing. We must mobilize the nation - our people and our technology - to address the challenge of helping every child achieve basic literacy, science literacy, and numeracy.
The cornerstone of our national commitment to meeting this challenge is widespread adoption of challenging content and performance standards, the concomitant development of teacher training and support systems, and statewide systemic reform based on standards-based instruction. The Department of Education's Goals 2000 provides grants for the development of state standards and the implementation of comprehensive reform in all 50 states. For example, the National Science Foundation has advanced mathematics and science education reform through programs such as the Statewide Systemic Initiatives and the more recent Urban Systemic Initiatives. These two NSF programs support 40 sites and serve over 25 million students. Both agencies' programs reflect a significant shift of the Federal role toward helping to strengthen an entire system that aligns content standards, teacher training, and student assessment rather than focusing on categorical programs for defined populations. Local and state flexibility on specific curriculum choices must be maintained.

President Clinton and Vice President Gore believe that "all of us have a duty to ensure that every child has a chance to take part in the new information age." The President added that, "technological literacy must become the standard in our country. Computers can enrich the education of any child, but only if the child has access to a computer, good software and a competent, g ood teacher who can help that child learn how to use it. Preparing children for a lifetime of computer use is just as essential today as teaching basic skills was a few years ago."

The Administration wishes to be a partner in ensuring that quality improvements are made nationwide and reflect the national need. For example, while business is best suited to clarify the skills needed to meet the demands of newly created jobs, academia is best suited to clarifying the knowledge base needed for advanced study (e.g., through appropriate mathematics and science admission standards).


Our most important investments in human resource development are those aimed at the biological, cognitive, social, and emotional development of America's children. Our children carry our hopes for the future, and preparing them for the twenty-first century clearly ranks among our most important national priorities. The return on our investments in education, such as those discussed above, will be maximized only through other investments based on sound research that help our children's readiness to learn.
Indicators of the well-being of our children and families provide a mixed picture of successes and shortcomings. Our national infant mortality rate is declining rapidly and is at a record low, but it is still higher than in many other countries. Our children's test scores in reading and science are improving but still trail those of several other nations. Our school dropout rate is unacceptably high, costing over $250 billion each year in lost earnings. Our teenage pregnancy rate is declining slightly, but is still the highest in the developed world. Our national vaccination coverage is the highest ever, but in many areas less than 50 percent of two-year-olds are adequately immunized. A similar picture of gains and unmet goals exists with respect to youth violence, child poverty, smoking, and substance abuse. Children who are poor and those from minority groups are often at even greater risk of poor health and education outcomes, making it especially urgent that we address the needs of these populations.
Much of the progress achieved in these and other areas grew out of critical research efforts that have advanced our understanding of how children and youth grow into healthy and productive individuals. Research has helped to inform policy decisions and program development, track outcomes, and identify strategies that work and those that do not. The Federal investment in research has clearly paid dividends in terms of improved outcomes for children and a healthier and brighter outlook for the nation as a whole.
Despite such important achievements, there continue to be significant gaps in our understanding of how children grow up to be healthy, well-educated, and responsible members of society. Given the rapidly changing nature of our communities and nation, strengthening Federal research on child and adolescent development and expanding its role in shaping public policy is especially crucial.
Although a great deal of knowledge about young people has been gained from past research in the social, behavioral, and life sciences, we clearly need to better understand what enables children to grow up to be healthy and active members of society. This research should focus on developmental processes beginning before birth and extending through adolescence; address the relationships among biological, cognitive, social, and emotional aspects of development; distinguish minority from majority populations and address influences of families, peers, schools, communities, media, and social institutions on development; and emphasize enhancing positive outcomes rather than just avoiding negative ones. Examples of particularly important research opportunities that will be explored in the coming years are:

  • Influence of Families and Communities on Development. Important questions include how communities can encourage an adolescent's safe passage to adulthood and how families and communities, as well as children, are being affected by major policy innovations taking place at all levels of government.
  • Health and Behavior. With increasing recognition of the major impact of behavior on health, important research questions include what approaches would help children adopt health-enhancing behaviors?
  • Children and Environmental Hazards. With children facing a wide array of environmental threats to their health, we must learn how best to identify and respond to these threats.
  • Learning and Intelligent Systems. New knowledge about the brain processes involved in learning provides opportunities to study the relationships among learning and intelligence and creativity, the use of technology to assist children's ability to learn, and the role of nutrition in influencing ability to learn.
  • Policy Research. In this emerging field of research, important questions include the combined effect of social policy changes on child well-being and service delivery and data sources needed to monitor change.
  • Longitudinal Studies. The 1998 budget requests additional funding for an Early Childhood Longitudinal Study (ECLS), which is to provide a comprehensive and reliable set of data that may be used to describe and better understand children's preparation for school, key transitions during their educational careers, their experience in kindergarten, primary, and elementary grades, and how their experiences relate to their likelihood of succeeding in school. The study would encompass both a birth and kindergarten cohort.

Long-term follow-up studies of children provide the best means for assessing how child development in "normal" conditions compares to what occurs in adverse conditions, and how childhood and adolescent interventions can best be targeted to the childhood antecedents of adult disease to prevent or delay the onset of problems in adult life.
Scientific research must be linked to policy. The Administration will establish, under the joint auspices of the Domestic Policy Council and the National Science and Technology Council, a multi-agency working group to help shape the Federal research portfolio on the health, education, and well-being of American children to provide systematic research input to policy development, and to assist in outcome evaluation. We owe this to our children, our families, and our nation as a sound investment in the national interest.


The Third International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) compared the academic performance of 500,000 students worldwide, including 40,000 Americans, at levels corresponding to U.S. grades four, eight, and twelve. In November 1996, the eighth-grade results were released, showing that among 40 other countries, U.S. students scored below the international average in math and above the international average in science.
Leaders in business and education recognize that the TIMSS results have serious implications for the success of U.S. students and the nation's future economic growth. Quantitative and problem-solving skills are increasingly important in the technology-driven global marketplace.
What explains the success of the five countries that outperformed the United States in both math and science, including Singapore, Korea, Japan, the Czech Republic, and Hungary? The TIMSS study found stark differences between what the United States expects of its students compared to other nations: the topics taught in the U.S. math curriculum for eighth graders compare to the seventh grade level in leading countries. In addition to less challenging expectations, U.S. curricula, classroom teaching, and textbooks cover more topics but leave little time for mastery and depth of understanding.
TIMSS also focused on math education in its comparison of teaching practices. What researchers discovered, based on videotapes of classroom instruction, is that U.S. teachers don't teach to America's own math standards. Unlike many American students, Japanese students are trained to understand math concepts and apply knowledge to solve real problems along with the basics of arithmetic.
In both math and science, TIMSS showed stronger and weaker areas of U.S. student performance. In math, U.S. students scored better in the areas of fractions and number sense, data representation, analysis, probability, and algebra than in geometry and measurement. In science, U.S. students scored better in earth science, life science, and environmental issues than in chemistry and physics.
Another important TIMSS finding relates to recent efforts to ensure that girls and boys have equal opportunities in math and science. The United States was one of 11 countries in which there were no significant differences between the performance of eighth-grade girls and boys in either math or science.
The President and Secretary of Education are committed to boosting achievement in math and science so students will be prepared to successfully compete in the global economy. To meet the challenges revealed in TIMSS, the Department of Education and the National Science Foundation are working together with communities and states, and the nation's math and science teachers to share best practices to improve student achievement. The Education Department is also developing four guides for school districts to use in strengthening standards, assessment, curricula, and instruction. One guide will enable local districts to administer the TIMSS test in their own schools to find out how their students are performing in the context of world-class math and science achievement.
The National Center of Education Statistics plans to make TIMSS the most accessible study ever. In July 1997, more data will be released showing state-by-state student performance in eighth-grade math and science and fourth-grade math (44 states are participating in this comparison). Additional data will link student performance on the National Assessment of Educational Progress with pe rformance on TIMSS.

Nations' Average Mathematics Performance Compared to U.S.
Hong Kong
Czech Republic
Slovak Republic
Russian Federation
New Zealand
United States
Latvia (LSS)
Iran, Islamic Rep. Kuwait
South Africa
International Average = 513

Nations' Average Science Performance Compared to the U.S.

Czech Republic
Slovak Republic
United States
New Zealand
Hong Kong
Latvia (LSS)
Iran, Islamic Rep. Cyprus
South Africa
International Average = 516

Latvia (LSS) indicates only Latvian-speaking schools were sampled representing less than 65% of the population.
Note: Nations not meeting international sampling guidelines are shown in italics.
Adapted from Mathematics Achievement in the Middle School Years.


The importance attached to producing outstanding young scientists and engineers was demonstrated in December 1996 with the inaugural Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers. Sixty young scholars, most of them in the early part of their academic careers combining research and education, were honored for their research contributions, for their promise, and for their commitment to broader societal goals. Nine Federal departments and agencies joined together in nominating and selecting these young scientists and engineers. The breadth of their research interests demonstrates that societal goals spanning health, environmental quality, economic competitiveness, national security, and the advancement of knowledge are being addressed creatively by our brightest young scientists and engineers.

Pina Fratamico, Agricultural Research Service - For innovative research and design of a rapid and sensitive technique to detect E. coli O157:H7 using specially treated magnetic beads to draw the bacterium out of foods.

Barbara Gartner, North Dakota State University - For outstanding research integrating plant growth and development, tree physiology and biochemistry, forest ecology, and wood science for the purpose of predicting wood quality variation.

Kenton Rodgers, Oregon State University - For outstanding research on the role of metalloproteins in cellular signaling specifically, elucidating how the heme iron-oxygen bond in hemoglobin affects activity of certain nitrogen fixation genes in Rhizobium bacteria.

John Daniel, NOAA Environmental Research Laboratories - For theoretical contributions to explaining stratospheric ozone depletion and climate change issues and defining how the dynamics of the atmosphere could influence the chemical composition to cause temporary slow-downs in the upward trends of several gases.

Eric Cornell, NIST Physics Laboratory - For leading the effort first demonstrating the quantum mechanical phenomenon of Bose-Einstein condensation (BEC) by using laser cooling and trapping of rubidium atoms to achieve high density followed by a sequence of evaporative cooling steps.

David Stensrud, NOAA Environmental Research Laboratories - For significant advances in the understanding of meso- and synoptic-scale weather systems by developing and applying innovative techniques for the incorporation of new data in numerical mod els for weather forecasting.

Roland Pozo, NIST Computing and Applied Mathematics Laboratory - For making significant contributions to the field of linear algebra software development and object-oriented numerical software design.

Andrea Bertozzi (Navy), Duke University - For research on analysis of dynamical systems and for pioneering work on finite time singularities in vortex patches.

Nesbitt Hagood (Navy), Massachusetts Institute of Technology - For pioneering research achievements to adaptively control and analyze structural vibrations, and the creation of active electronic control methodology.

Paul Laibinis (Navy), Massachusetts Institute of Technology - For pioneering work in interfacial chemistry resulting in self-assembled monolayers forming the basis of micro-patterned biosensor arrays.

Venkatakrishnan Selvamanickam (Air Force), Intermagnetics General Corporation - In recognition of significant research and development of novel processes for the fabrication of high temperature superconductors for electric power and magnetic applic ations.

Peter Sercel (Army), University of Oregon - For outstanding research innovation in experimental and theoretical studies of the effects of quantum confinement in semiconductors.

Gail Kineke (Navy), University of South Carolina - For significant interdisciplinary research on sediment mechanics, marine geology, and physical oceanography, to advance the state-of-the-art in sediment characterization.

Shenda Baker, Harvey Mudd College and Los Alamos National Laboratory - In recognition of research employing neutron scattering measurements of solid-solid and solid-liquid interfaces to study and improve the properties of advanced materials.

Richard Cairncross, University of Delaware and Sandia National Laboratory - For outstanding contributions to the advancement of direct simulation computational technology for manufacturing processes of critical importance to the Weapons Complex.

John Hill, Brookhaven National Laboratory - For elucidating the role of crystalline order in electron dynamics and of disorder in magnetic phase transitions, and for development of magnetic and inelastic x-ray scattering techniques in the study of condensed matter.

Philip Jardine, Oak Ridge National Laboratory - For research integrating field and laboratory studies with theoretical concepts that have advanced the understanding of nutrient cycling and contaminant reactions and transport in unsaturated, heterog enous soils.

Christine Siantar, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory - For innovative research in developing a new approach to the treatment of cancer, enabling physicians to plan radiation treatments with pinpoint accuracy, improving the ability to cure many forms of cancer while avoiding damage to healthy tissue.

Michael Smith, Oak Ridge National Laboratory - For leading astrophysics research in radioactive ion beam physics, and for contributing to the collection and evaluation of nuclear reaction data applicable to astrophysics phenomena.

Melissa Clark, VA Medical Center, Nashville, TN and Vanderbilt University - In recognition of innovative basic research on the molecular mechanisms of functional regulation of the xanthing dehydrogenase gene which is important in tissue injury.

Joseph Cubells, VA Medical Center, West Haven, CT and Yale University - For exceptional basic research concerning the molecular genetics underlying chemical and behavioral differences observed in individuals diagnosed with schizophrenia.

David Barnes, University of Arkansas - For innovative research comparing the effects of mercury and insulin on hexose transport and protein synthesis, and determining signal transduction pathways targeted by mercury.

Keith Grasman, Wright State University - For significant research on biomarkers for organochlorine-associated immunosuppression in fish-eating birds of the Great Lakes, contributing information on immunotoxicological effects, and new methods for identifying problem sites and recovery.

Qing-Huo Liu, New Mexico State University - For innovative research to the field of geophysical sensing using efficient numerical simulations for environmental applications.


Dora Angelaki, University of Mississippi Medical Center - For significant research advancement in investigating the adaptive mechanisms of visual-vestibular interactions in the determination of spatial orientation and movements in the weightlessness environment of space.

Christopher Chyba, Princeton University - For innovative research studying whether Martian craters that exhibit fluidized ejecta blankets are the result of impact melting of ice in permafrost or of the liberation of existing underground aquifers.

Andrea Donnellan, Jet Propulsion Laboratory - To recognize innovative use of data from continuous, permanent GPS sites and three-dimensional models required to identify intervening faults and stress which will contribute to understanding earthquake cycles and assessment of regional earthquake risk.

Heidi Sosik, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute - For developing an innovative combination of laser-based optical and fluorescence-based assays to study important biological oceanographic processes.

Ellen Stofan, Jet Propulsion Laboratory - For contributions to the scientific understanding of radar interpretation used on both the Magellan and SIR-C data.

Kimberly Weaver, Johns Hopkins University - To recognize significant contributions in x-ray studies to provide a solid test of the "obscuration-plus-viewing angle" unified model hypothesis for Seyfert galaxies.

Ali Hemmati-Brivanlou, Rockefeller University - For significant research in the field of neurobiology that has illuminated cellular mechanisms controlling normal development of the nervous system, and for setting the stage for studies to develop the capability to regenerate neural tissue.

Allison Doupe, University of California, San Francisco - In recognition of landmark contributions to understanding the role of the brain in the development of learning abilities and for pioneering and innovative contributions in integrative neuroscience.

Paul Khavari, Stanford University - For innovative research using the skin as a vehicle for gene therapy by the use of a topical agent that allows inserted genes to be expressed and the effects to be reversed in the event of an adverse outcome.

Aron Lukacher, Emory University - For major contributions to the understanding of antiviral immunity, and innovative research on the development of cellular immunity to polyoma virus-induced tumors in mice.

Deirdre Meldrum, University of Washington - For recognition of innovative research utilizing a broad set of interdisciplinary approaches to advance DNA sequencing technology.

Lee Ann Niswander, Sloan-Kettering Institute for Cancer Research - For research leading to a better understanding of limb formation during embryonic development, providing the basis for future studies that will assist in the prevention of birth defects.

David Self, Yale University - For achievement in basic research that advances the knowledge of mechanisms underlying drug abuse and addiction through the innovative integration of molecular biological techniques with behavioral, pharmacological, and biochemical methods.

Morgan Sheng, Massachusetts General Hospital - For outstanding contributions to the field of neuroscience by conducting research concerning the molecular basis of neuronal signaling and memory.

Mark Walter, University of Alabama, Birmingham - For conducting highly successful research on the molecular structure of lymphokines and providing new insight into the structure and function relationships of cellular signaling proteins.

Keith Woerpel, University of California, Irvine - For achievements in organic chemistry applied to the preparation of complex molecules of biomedical importance, including new antibiotics for combating infections in immunocompromised patients.

David Burke, University of Michigan - For outstanding research at the interface of molecular genetics and engineering technology that clarifies genetic factors in aging and lays the foundation for the next generation of genetic-analysis equipment using silicon-microfabrication engineering technology.

Erick Carreira, California Institute of Technology - For major contributions in synthetic organic chemistry, including the first total synthesis of (+)zaragozic acid C, an enzyme inhibitor relevant to the discovery of therapeutically useful cholesterol-lowering agents.

Fengshan Chen, Florida International University - For outstanding research contributions to the simulation of advanced manufacturing processes for design and real-time control of flexible manufacturing systems.

Juan de Pablo, University of Wisconsin, Madison - To recognize excellent research in equilibrium and nonequilibrium thermophysical fluid properties involving atomistic modeling.

Peter Delfyett, University of Central Florida - For outstanding engineering research contributions in ultrafast optics and photonic technologies.

Bonnie Dorr, University of Maryland - For outstanding contributions to computer science and linguistics in the design and implementation of natural language processing systems for machine translation and foreign language tutoring.

Weinan E, New York University - To recognize innovative applications of mathematics to the explanation of the behavior of complex materials and fluids, including liquid crystals, polymers, superconductors, and turbulent flows.

Marc Edwards, University of Colorado - For research achievements in corrosion control, oxidation processes, and arsenic chemistry and research on fundamental reactions controlling metal corrosion in drinking water.

Mark Gluck, Rutgers University - For outstanding contributions to understanding the cognitive neuroscience of human learning, by evaluating computational models of neural networks that relate brain mechanisms to emergent behaviors and integrating behavioral and psychobiological approaches to animal and human learning.

Marilyn Gunner, City College of CUNY - For outstanding biophysics research on the role of electrostatic forces in protein stability and function and the coupling of electron and proton transfer events in photosynthesis and in electron-transfer proteins.

Daniel Hess, University of South Florida - In recognition of major contributions to fundamental research addressing pervasive issues in the dynamics of mechanical and structural systems with friction.

Ruey-Jen Hwu Sadwick, University of Utah - To recognize leadership in fundamental engineering research to enable practical high-power, high-frequency electronic and optoelectronic systems.

Robert Kennedy, University of Florida - For outstanding research in bioanalytical chemistry, including development of an insulin-sensitive microelectrode that can detect secretions from single cells and of rapid immunoassay techniques based on capillary electrophoresis.

Michael Kremer, Massachusetts Institute of Technology - For emerging work on the role of education and health policy in developing nations and creative analysis of economic growth and economic development on factors that affect divergent growth rates among industrial economies.

Charles Marcus, Stanford University - For innovative investigations of the physics of electron conduction in the mesoscopic regime, a physically and quantum mechanically constrained region relevant to the development of atomic and molecular scale electronic devices and to the understanding of neural networks.

Massoud Pedram, University of Southern California - In recognition of outstanding contributions to computer-aided design technology, especially in low power analysis and synthesis of integrated circuits relevant to the development of portable infor mation systems.

John Sutherland, Michigan Technological University - For excellence in research on the environment, machining, and applied statistics, and for studies focusing on critical issues in environmentally conscious manufacturing.

Todd Verdoorn, Vanderbilt University - In recognition of outstanding innovative neuropharmacology research that advances understanding of the structure and function of neuronal glutamate receptors.

Michael Wysession, Washington University in St. Louis - To recognize excellence in research on the geophysics of the solid Earth, especially for combining seismic imaging with geophysical constraints to understand the dynamics of the complex boundary between the core and the mantle of the deep earth.

John Yin, Dartmouth College - In recognition of achievement in research on the dynamics of viral growth and adaption and their potential to influence the design of efficient multi-molecular manufacturing processes.

The first recipients of the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Mentoring. At the White House in September 1996, the honorees included ten individuals and six institutions that have been exemplary in their encouragement of minorities, women, and people with disabilities to pursue careers in scientific and technical fields. President Clint on noted that they would "serve as examples to their colleagues and will be leaders in the national effort to train the next century's scientists, mathematicians, and engineers."


Martha G. Absher, Duke University, Durham, NC
Howard G. Adams, National Institute on Mentoring, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA
Diola Bagayoko, Southern University, Baton Rouge, LA
Joaquin Bustoz, Arizona State University, Tempe,AZ
Carlos G. Gutierrez, California State University-Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA
Janet S. Herman, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA
Susan J. S. Lasser, Clemson University, Clemson, SC
Melvin B. Robin, Science High School, Newark, NJ
Walter S. Smith, University of Akron, Akron, OH
Richard A. Tapia, Rice University, Houston, TX

Columbia University Double Discovery Center, New York, NY
Dartmouth College Women in Science Project, Hanover, NH
National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering, Inc. (NACME), New York, NY
New Mexico MESA, Inc., Albuquerque, NM
Oregon Graduate Institute of Science & Technology Saturday Academy Program, Portland, OR
University of Maryland Baltimore County, Baltimore, MD


"We ought to commit ourselves as a country to say by the year 2000, 8-year-olds in America will be able to pick up an appropriate book and say, 'I read this all by myself.'"
--President Bill Clinton

On August 28, 1996, President Clinton, recognizing that children are our nation's greatest asset and its future, announced the America Reads Challenge. Working with parents and educators, this unprecedented initiative calls on all Americans - schools, libraries, religious institutions, universities, college students, the media, community and national groups, cultural organizations, business leaders, and our nation's senior citizens - to ensure that every American child can read well and independently by the end of third grade. Some students need extra help beyond the classroom to read well. Reading is a skill, in particular, that is developed not only in the cla ssroom, but also in the community and in the home.
America Reads Challenge recognizes that 40 percent of America's fourth graders cannot read as well as they should. While students today read, on average, as well as ever, it is not good enough for the complexity of today's jobs and society. Research shows that if students cannot read well by the end of third grade, their chances for later success are significantly diminished, including a greater likelihood of dropping out of school and increased delinquent behaviors.
Research recognizes the value that parents and other concerned individuals in local communities and the private sector can provide by tutoring and mentoring. Teachers, libraries, and principals also play a key role in strengthening reading in school and after school.
America Reads Challenge builds on the spirit of volunteer and community participation in tutoring and mentoring. Furthermore, this reading challenge takes advantage of the strength of AmeriCorps, Learn and Serve, the Senior Corps, 100,000 college work-study students, and other community service and community-based organizations throughout America.
There are five major parts to the America Reads Challenge, which will be funded over five years when Congress passes the legislation:

  • America's Reading Corps. This heart of the program has proposed funding of almost $2.5 billion. Nearly $1.5 billion in new education investments will provide after-school reading specialists to train tutors and provide supervision, and $1 billion from the National Service budget will help recruit and organize the tutors. Together, these funds will provide 30,000 reading specialists and coordinators who will help mobilize one million tutors. These tutors, working with reading teachers, principals, libraries, and community-based organizations will provide individualized after-school, weekend, and summer reading tutoring for more than three million children a year in grades K-3 who want and need the extra help.
  • Parents as First Teachers Challenge Grants. Three hundred million dollars in grants will be available to national and regional groups, as well as to local communities and organizations, to foster effective programs to provide assistance to interested parents to help their children become successful readers by the end of third grade.
  • Head Start Expansion. One million 3- and 4-year olds will be reached through the expansion of Head Start programs.
  • Title I/ Even Start Strengthening and Expansion. Additional investments are bing made to expand efforts to strengthen teaching and learning during the regular school day.
  • Challenge to Private Sector to Work with Schools and Libraries. Parents and private and nonprofit groups will be actively encouraged to be a part of the President's America Reads Challenge as they have been in Secretary of Education Riley's Partnership for Family Involvement in Education and the summer READ*WRITE*NOW! initiative.


Part of the groundwork for literacy skills is established by the time the child enters kindergarten, but exactly how is this base acquired? Recent research is persuading experts that a child's best preparation for literacy is a very diverse and rich early language environment that provides varied opportunities to learn about the world and a range of topics through language.
"An hour spent reading a child stories that stimulate interest in new topics and provide an opportunity to learn the language for discussing them has long-term value for the child," notes Harvard Graduate School of Education researcher Catherine Snow. With colleagues David Dickenson and Patton Tabors, Snow is analyzing contexts for language and literacy at home and in the classroom. Their studies suggest the links between children's learning at home and at school, and the ways in which these two social contexts complement each other or overlap.
The basis for "literacy" includes a range of areas of competency, including vocabulary, and ability to conduct a sustained dialogue, and to assess and respond to language through inference, integration of information, and evaluation. Children gain such skills before they learn to read, and it appears that the extent to which these skills are mastered is closely tied to reading ability as the child advances through school. The act of acquiring information and using language to express it equips children for the task of reading: if you encounter a topic in a book and you've encountered it verbally before, it is much easier to understand it and to fit it into what you already know.
In a long-term study of language and literacy development at home and school, the researchers recruited 80 low-income subjects from Head Start programs and other preschool and day care programs that accept low-income students who pay by voucher. Despite their mutual low-income status, the children's parents varied in their level of education, and in their styles of imparting literacy skills to their children through reading and daily discourse.
The study showed that one important factor for building vocabulary in pre-schoolers is whether parents use "rare" words (such as "budget," "governor," or "oxygen") other than the 3,000 or so most common words. The researchers found that children whose parents use a higher number of rare words in family situations have larger vocabularies. Likewise, parents who explain the new or difficult words enhance the child's vocabulary and knowledge about the world. Informal situations such as mealtime and free play also encourage language growth if they give rise to intellectually challenging discussions.
Exposure to a language-rich environment is so critical that it should go on in whatever language the most interesting conversations can be held. For families who are struggling to learn English as a second language and cannot yet share information with their children in a rich and stimulating way in their new language, Snow encourages adult family members to converse with children in their native tongue.
The students in the study, who were three years old when the effort began, are now in fifth through seventh grades. As the study continues, the researchers hope to encourage early childhood programs such as Head Start to create a richer language environment by placing greater emphasis on reading to children and on discussions involving complex vocabulary. For many programs, which already try to involve the family more closely in the child's development, it will be a natural extension to build ways to enrich the child's language environment, both at school and at home.
Says Snow: "You can wait to teach the child the alphabet, but every day that you don't enrich the child's vocabulary is a day the child has lost."

President Clinton's America Reads Challenge reflects the Administration's belief that every child needs to be able to read well and independently. Recent research on early literacy indicates that a child acquires essential basic literacy skills before learning to read, and that early exposure to a language-rich environment is critical to the child's long-term academic development.


As a poor, Mexican American child, Richard Tapia knew he excelled in math and science, but how his technical abilities could lead him out of inner city Los Angeles seemed uncertain. "I just needed someone to tell me, 'Yes, it's possible.'"
Tapia, now director of Rice University's Department of Computational and Applied Mathematics, recalls several teachers who went the extra mile and encouraged him to "take your talent and love of math, and make a career out of it." While building impressive academic and professional achievements, including nomination by President Clinton to the National Science Board that governs the National Science Foundation (NSF), Tapia has never forgotten that one positive statement can change someone's life forever.

Honored for his mentoring efforts, Richard Tapia of Rice University is flanked by Neal Lane, National Science Foundation Director (L) and John Gibbons, Assistant to the President for Science and Technology.

In addition to teaching and research, Tapia began and now directs all outreach programs of the NSF-funded Center for Research on Parallel Computation at Rice. In less than ten years, these programs have trained and encouraged more than 750 students and 700 teachers, especially underrepresented minorities and women, to pursue careers in mathematics and science. He is as comfortable speaking to a class of second-graders as to a graduate school seminar. All the while, he is urging his network of teachers, students, and community leaders to interact with each other to make the world a better place.
Today, the importance of role modeling and mentoring is recognized at the highest levels. In 1996, Tapia, along with nine other individuals and six institutions, received a Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Mentoring. The awards are bestowed by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy through the National Science and Technology Council. They recognize outstanding mentoring efforts and programs that enhance the participation of individuals from groups under-represented in these fields, namely minorities, women, and persons with disabilities.
Tapia's example is remarkable, but it is not unique. He and his co-recipients share President Clinton's belief that the nation's future prosperity depends on producing the finest scientists and engineers for the twenty-first century, and that we cannot afford to ignore the talents of people who may be outside the economic and social mainstream.
Another award winner, Martha Shumate Absher, firmly believes that outreach is done one individual at a time. Absher is director of outreach for the NSF Engineering Research Center for Emerging Cardiovascular Technologies at Duke University. She recalls a deaf undergraduate student she met when she visited Washington, D.C. to interview Gallaudet University candidates for her summer program. He was a "superb computer scientist," she recalls, but he was discouraged and worried about how to support his wife and the child they were expecting. He needed a job and was considering dropping out of school. She arranged a paid research internship for him in industry for one semester and, after the baby was born, brought the young father to Duke for the summer program. "He did a wonderful job," and was inspired to apply to the University of Maryland Computer Science Department, where he is now enrolled. Without her program's support, "who knows if he could have continued?" Absher muses. "He might have been lost to the whole educational system."

Martha Shumate Absher of Duke University was honored at a White House ceremony for her outstanding efforts to encourage minorities and persons with disabilities to pursue scientific and technical careers.

Absher's program provides laboratory research experience, and develops mentoring relationships with students from six universities, including Gallaudet and five Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Students from her program often become mentors to other students. She concentrates on follow-up because students who face challenges, such as disabilities, are often unable to turn one positive experience into continued career development.
Absher and Tapia believe that government support has literally changed the lives of students who otherwise would be unable to make the move from high school to undergraduate school to graduate school. Both express surprise that their award has made a difference to them but say that the personal recognition, and the visibility brought to their programs, helps them toward their goal of developing a pool of highly trained scientists and engineers that reflects our diverse population. Especially for those students who must overcome long odds to pursue a technical career, mentors such as Tapia and Absher can be all-important figures because they believe it when they say, "Yes, it's possible."


  • Goals 2000 - Educate America Act of 1994
  • National Plan for Technology in Education
  • Technology Literacy Challenge Fund
  • Technology Learning Challenge Grant Program
  • Advanced Technological Education Program
  • Regional Technology in Education Consortia
  • Collaborative Research on Learning Technologies
  • Systemic Education Reform Initiatives
  • America Reads Challenge
  • Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers
  • Presidential Awards for Excellence in Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Mentoring
  • School-to-Work transition program
  • U.S. Technology Corps
  • National Service Corps
  • NetDay 96
  • Expanded Pell Grants
  • Direct Loans
  • Skill Grants