A "dear colleague" letter spells out how federal funding from the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) can help schools and states increase access to science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education opportunities.

The April letter from the U.S. Education Department provides guidance for educators on ways to increase access to STEM courses, support STEM professional development and improve access to active learning material. Computer science is included in these efforts since the ESSA clearly spelled out that its provisions also applied to the subject. While the Education Department can't create laws, it does frequently lay out ways that the laws can be applied in specific school and state contexts.

The newly passed ESSA allows state or local education agencies to buy STEM learning materials with Title I funds. With Title II dollars, they can help their teachers learn different ways to teach STEM, while Title III would allow them to buy STEM resources designed for students who are learning English. Meanwhile, state education agencies could use Title IV funds to provide active learning opportunities in STEM for students at community learning centers.