Written by: Reagan Flowers, PhD
As a nation, we are making strides in STEM education, but there is still more work to be done. In the last decade, two million STEM jobs have been created in the United States. Which means there are two million new opportunities to bring about needed change in the world. It would be ideal if math and science scores of U.S. students was also on the rise, not falling short.
To provide context on what has been accomplished since 2005, our Nation has successfully taken on the herculean task of bringing awareness and directing resources towards problems we face in STEM education. At the start of this effort, 8th graders in 11 countries were ranked higher in math and science than 8th graders in the United States. We have also witnessed, the U.S. patent office grant more than half of all patents to non-Americans (foreign nationals and foreign countries).
Since then, government funding has increased, curriculum and enrichment opportunities have expanded, and new education standards have been set. Today’s high school graduates are the first Americans to have experienced C-STEM in classrooms from kindergarten through high school.
In looking at the data, the effort given has yielded mixed results. On average, at the elementary school level, math scores rose but science scores fell. At the high school level, international ranking in science and math scores increased, but the scores stayed about the same.
In 2018, 75% of college students majored in STEM-related fields and 86% of high school graduates expressed interest in pursuing a STEM career. There is no question that we have sparked interest in our young people. Now we must ensure that student’s gain the required knowledge and skills to complete the mission.
Diversity and inclusion are key. Even though efforts are being made, there’s still so much more to be done to ensure that minority and female students receive equitable literacy and STEM instruction.
Whether you’re a parent or a teacher, speak up! If you see students around you lacking access to technology, literacy, science equipment, or STEM programs, start asking questions. Are we doing enough? Can we apply for grants? Who can we partner with? What can we leverage?