Among the most critical academic disciplines for success in a 21st century workforce are those involving Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM). These disciplines are increasingly digital, networked and rapidly changing. And yet U.S. students are becoming less engaged and falling significantly behind the rest of the world in terms of STEM learning:
- Compared to other developed countries, American students ranked 25th out of 30 in math and 21st out of 30 in science (OECD Program for International Students Assessment);
- In 1970, half of the people in the world who held science and engineering doctorates were Americans, but by 2010 projections show that figure will have dropped to 15 percent (U.S. Department of Education);
- Children ages 6-12 report a high level of interest and belief in their sciences abilities. But by age 14, interest and self-confidence related to science drop off. (U.S. Department of Education).
In their report “Rising Above the Gathering Storm,” the National Academy of Sciences makes a number of recommendations for how to prepare the U.S. to compete successfully in the global economy of the 21st century. Central to these recommendations is improving the STEM skills of Americans to be able to compete with other emerging economies.