The National Center for Educational Statistics reported that “[b]etween 1998 and 2008, the percentage of the adult population 25 years of age and over who had completed high school rose from 83 percent to 87 percent, and the percentage of adults with a bachelor’s degree increased from 24 percent to 29 percent”. This is progress…isn’t it?
On the surface it may seem that way, But the Google XPrize blog The Launch Pad begs to differ, claiming that “in the US alone, the Department of Education reported that only 18% of high school seniors are considered proficient in science and 5% of undergraduates earn degrees in science and engineering”. It seems that STEM(Science, Technology, Math and Engineering) education is lagging behind other types of education. The lack of preparation in high school for a STEM degree program is leading to increased drop outs and lack of interest in the field. A reported issued by the University of Wisconsin’s career center found that students are more likely to complete STEM degrees if they feel they can find a job and if they feel that are doing well. However, it is near impossible to feel like one is doing well if algebra is hard to them. STEM fields are enjoying massive growth despite the difficult economy, so that could drive students to STEM degrees. Whether or not they complete them is the question.
Either way, it is important for us to target high school in any effort increase the number of people with STEM degrees. The lack of trained people serves as a great barrier to science.