Why is a Solution Needed?

There is little argument regarding the U.S. standing in terms of educating and preparing students for lasting and rewarding career choices.  Our Nation, once the leader in educating students in science and technology disciplines, has fallen so far down the ladder, it is broadly recognized we are in such a serious deficit, the case for a STEM Education is nothing short of a national priority.

“Only 45 percent of U.S. high school graduates in 2011 were ready for college work in math and 30 percent were ready in science.”

“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.”

“Only one out of five households has access to and takes advantage of STEM-related after-school programming.”

“In almost every state, children will get less time for science in elementary school than they did 15-20 years ago.”

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“Fifty-four percent of the nation’s 4th graders and 47 percent of its 8th graders report that they “never or hardly ever” write reports about science projects. Thirty-nine percent of 8th graders report that they “never or hardly ever” design a science experiment.”

“The average mathematics literacy score of U.S. 15-year olds declined about 9 points from 2003 to 2006, and then rose about 13 points in 2009, placing the United States below 17 of 33 other members of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).”

“The average science literacy score of U.S. 15-year-olds was not measurably different from the 2009 OECD average, though it improved by 3 points from 2006 to 2009. The U.S. score was lower than the score of 12 out of 33 other OECD nations participating in the assessment.”

“About half of Americans said that their local public schools did not put enough emphasis on teaching science and math, an equal portion (48%) said the emphasis was about right, and just 2% said there was too much emphasis on teaching science and math in the local schools (Rose and Gallup 2007).”

National Science Foundation’s 2012 Science and Engineering Indicators

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It is also no secret, that education has a tradition of being unable to keep up with the speed of business as attested by the following sources. What is required are the mechanisms to create “demand signals” of what business needs and opportunities for current knowledge transfer to keep learning relevant.

“Only one in five STEM college students felt that their K–12 education prepared them extremely well for their college courses in STEM.”

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“Fewer than 40 percent of students who enter college intending to major in a STEM field complete a STEM degree.”

-Office of Science and Technology and Policy

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The cycle goes like this:  Businesses are frustrated because they can’t find enough well-educated scientists and engineers.  Colleges and universities complain that incoming students are not prepared for the rigors of math and science and that they have to do remedial training.  High schools report that incoming students just aren’t grounded in the fundamentals of mathematics and basic physical science concepts.  Middle schools say the students they receive today aren’t interested in the hard work it takes to learn science and mathematical concepts.

And so we as a nation face the challenge of how are we going to capture the imaginations of our youth with ideas and concepts that will serve them much better as they grow as opposed to letting them fall (completely) for the latest entertainment fad.  Our challenge is to find and use all the resources at our disposal to expose and engage youth with real business experiences grounded in STEM principles.  Building the bridges between students and business will solve the problems both face, but it will take both to overcome their own notions of how it should be.  Hence, Preparing STUDENTS for Business, AND Preparing BUSINESS for Students.

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