The health and longevity of our Nation’s, citizenry, economy and environmental resources depend in large part on the acceleration of scientific and technological innovation, such as those improve health care, inspire new industries, protect the environment and safeguard us from harm. In order for the United States to maintain its preeminent position in the world it will be essential that the Nation continues to lead in STEM, but evidence indicates that current educational pathways are not leading to a sufficiently larger and well-trained STEM workforce to achieve this goal. President Obama has been advocating science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) crisis front and center in his 2011 State of the Union Address. He proposed a 5-year federal STEM education strategic plan to move America forward and address this challenge. The policy will provide additional resources to meet specific national goals, such as preparing and recruiting 100,000 high-quality K-12 STEM teachers, recognizing and rewarding excellence in STEM instruction, strengthening the infrastructure for supporting STEM instruction and engagement, and broadening participation in STEM fields by underrepresented groups.
Education in STEM has receive increase attention in recent years due to fears that a failure to produce enough students with high-quality STEM skills will affect America’s ability to compete in an increasingly global economy. States are beginning to asset their own education system and considering strategies that will improve the overall quality of education in order to prepare students for the workforce. Legislators are also beginning to focus on policies related directly to STEM education, simply because American students are being consistently outperformed in STEM areas on international test. There is a low percentage of American students that study in the STEM area in college and graduate programs in relation to other countries. It is obvious that STEM knowledge and skills are in even greater demand.
Recent reports have indicated that students who report early expectation for a career in science are much likely to compete a college degree in STEM field than student without those expectations. This suggest that early exposure to science topics at middle grades or below, may be important for a student’s future career aspirations. The achievement gap in mathematics and science remains a persistent issue. According to one recent report on international assessment of mathematics and science scores of white report on international assessment of mathematics and science, the science scores of white U.S. eighth graders were surpassed only by the scores of three countries (Singapore, Chinese Taipei, and Korea), while Hispanic and black U.S. eighth graders had scores equivalent to those of students in countries ranked in the bottom third of the 45 countries that participated in the 8th grade science assessment.
- Only one in five high school graduates who scores in the top quartile in mathematics goes on to become a STEM professional.
- There is also fewer than 40 percent of students who enter college intending to major in a STEM field complete a STEM degree.
- Women make up nearly 50 percent of the U.S. workforce and a majority of college students, but hold less than 25 percent of STEM jobs and earn less than one in five bachelor’s degrees in high growth fields like computer science and engineering.
Project SYNCERE’s mission is to increase the number of minority, female, and under-served students who pursue a career in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Their goal is to increase awareness, stimulate interest, and provide hands-on learning experiences to prepare students for rewarding STEM careers that pay in terms of salary, prestige, and challenge. The organization provides a curriculum for students in grades K-12 that integrates STEM through the use of project-based learning. This policy directly from the Executive Office of the President tackles top issues concerning Project SYNCERE mission and how to help the organization, the community, and the nations move forward in regards to STEM. Although the Federal Government plays an important role in STEM education, it cannot achieve success by itself. To effectively leverage its investments, the Federal Government will coordinate its efforts strategically and collaborate with non-Federal partners to support institutional, state, and local efforts. They will prepare 100,000 excellent STEM teachers over the next decade with strong skills and deep content knowledge. This will help to improve STEM instruction where research has shown that top-performing teachers make a dramatic difference in student achievement and suggest that for students who learn from these teachers year after year, achievement gaps narrow significantly.
The President goal is get a 50 percent increase in the number of U.S. youth who have an effective, authentic STEM experience each year prior to completing high school. The plans is to encourage students to develop interest in and positive attitudes towards STEM topics and improve perception of their ability to participate in STEM, all of which can lead to improved understanding and proficiency. Lately, there have been poor retention rates among undergraduate STEM majors in U.S. institutions. Though this policy, President Obama hopes to enhance STEM experience of undergraduate students by graduating one million additional students with degrees in STEM fields over the next 10 years. Through internships, scholarships, and research experience opportunities, initiatives to create and test innovative instructional approaches and materials, and research on STEM learning, this will create a strong emphasis on improving undergraduate STEM education.
Student population is becoming increasingly diverse, but underrepresented minority groups (URGs) remain underrepresented in STEM education and careers. Minority students may not be graduating at the same rate from STEM programs as their peers, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have an interest in STEM fields. When interviewed, minority students expressed desire to have a career in STEM at a rate that was equal to white and Asian students, with research reporting this all the way back into the 1980s. It is believed that gabs exists because many minority students are not afforded the same educational opportunities, receiving less science and mathematics instruction form more inexperienced teachers.
The United States is failing to keep pace with its international competitors in producing a workforce with the necessary skills and knowledge to advance STEM fields because of inadequacies in education pathways leading to STEM degrees and into the workforce. The Presidents 5-year federal STEM education strategic plan is a great start to advancing our nation’s students in STEM fields. Project SYNCERE has seen a lack of participation of the number of minority, female, and under-served students pursuing a career in the fields of STEM. This 5-year federal STEM education plans is an effective method to assist students in grade K-12 to start becoming interested in the subjects of STEM. There is a big picture issue, where we see or nation is not being as competitive in comparison to other countries in innovation, but we must look at the local levels—within communities. We must look at the school systems, the educators, the learning environments. This will help us asset whether the students are receiving a high quality education in math and sciences from qualified instructors with the proper equipment’s. This 5-year federal STEM education strategic plan is a great solution and it aligns with Project SYNERE’s mission and goals.
Fleischman, H.L., Hopstock, P.J., Pelczar, M.P., and Shelley, B.E. (2010). Highlights From PISA 2009: Performance of U.S. 15-Year-Old Students in Reading, Mathematics, and Science Literacy in an International Context (NCES 2011-004). U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics.
Committee on Underrepresented Groups and the Expansion of the Science and
Engineering Workforce Pipeline. (2010). Expanding Underrepresented Minority Participation: America’s Science and Technology Talent at the Crossroads.Committee on Science, Engineering, and Public Policy; Policy and Global Affairs; National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine. Available from http://www.nap.edu/catalog/12984.html.
Economics and Statistics Administration. (2011). Women in STEM: A Gender Gap to Innovation. United States Department of Commerce, Washington, D.C.
Economics and Statistics Administration. (2011). STEM: Good Jobs Now and for the Future. United States Department of Commerce, Washington, D.C.
U.S. Department of Commerce (2012). The competitiveness and innovative capacity of the United States.
Business-Higher Education Forum. (2007). An American Imperative Transforming the Recruitment, Retention, and Renewal of Our Nation’s Mathematics and Science Teaching Workforce. Retrieved from http://www.eric.ed.gov/PDFS/ED503709.pdf.
Tai, R. H., Liu, Q. C., Maltese, A. V., & Fan, X. (2006). Planning early for careers in science. Science. 312, 1143 - 1144.
Martin, M.O., Mullis, I.V.S., Foy, P., & Stanco, G.M. (2012). Chestnut Hill, MA: TIMSS & PIRLS International Study Center, Boston College.
Carnevale, A.P., Smith, Nicole, and Melton, M. STEM. 2011. Georgetown University, Washington, D.C. http://www9.georgetown.edu/grad/gppi/hpi/cew/pdfs/STEMWEBINAR.pdf
PCAST President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology. (February 2012). Report to the President: Engage to excel: Producing one-million additional college graduates with degrees in science, technology