Our nation is at a tipping point. We are in danger of losing our position as the global leader in scientific discoveries and technological innovation.
In September 2010, the Presidential Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) released its “Report to the President” on the future of STEM education- Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics- in America. The PCAST report cited numerous statistics as evidence of the current unacceptable state of STEM education in the U.S., such as:
- In 2009, just 34 percent of U.S. 8th graders were rated proficient or higher in a national math assessment, and more than one in four scored below the basic level.
- In an international exam given in 2006, U.S. high school students ranked 21st out of 30 industrialized nations in science and 25th in math.
- Only 43 percent of U.S. high school graduates in 2010 were ready for college work in math and 29 percent were ready in science.
According to ChangtheEquation.com (a public-private collaborative project encouraging private companies like Time Warner Cable and Exxon-Mobil to invest in STEM education),
“Adding to these problems is the fact that math in our country suffers from an image problem. In a recent poll, more than half of Americans aged 18 to 34 admitted that they often say they can’t do math. Nearly a third said they would rather clean the bathroom than solve a math problem.”
For the past few decades, the American education system allowed a gradual decline in STEM education. Students lack inspiration to strive for success and are severely underperforming and underprepared in STEM subjects.
How can our country claim to be the world’s leader in technological innovation, engineering feats, and scientific breakthroughs if we are not graduating STEM literate students? If America is going to tackle the big issues of our time like green energy solutions, communications needs, and global poverty/health/hunger, we need students with strong foundations in STEM who are inspired to change the world.
One of PCAST’s recommendations for improving STEM education is supporting “high-quality STEM-based after-school and extended day activities.”
See “The Solution” for what STEM Tutoring and others are doing to answer this call.