Labor experts predict that in the next decade and beyond, the U.S. economy will call for millions of new professionals in the STEM disciplines. Yet despite this surge of opportunity, American postsecondary schools are unable to meet even current demand for skilled graduates in STEM fields. Business leaders, educators and government officials have grown increasingly concerned about the threat this gap poses to both our country’s economic health, and to our prospects for continued leadership on the global stage.
In addition to its economic dimensions, the problem has significant social implications as well. Currently, only 16% of graduates from STEM bachelor degree programs are African American and Hispanic, suggesting that these populations will not fully participate in the new prosperity offered by these fields.
Federal and state agencies, universities, foundations, and districts are mobilizing to make STEM an urgent priority, and to substantially increase the number of students with experience and interest in these fields of study. As with any deep reform effort, a commitment to STEM learning calls for innovation in leadership, organizational structure, teacher training and support, curriculum, school culture, and facilities.
In an effort to cultivate student success, the national STEM initiative has embarked upon the creation of dynamic STEM high school programs across the United States. STEM education aims to promote the teaching and learning of STEM disciplines in ways that are integrated, intensive, and applied, and that meet a level of rigor at least sufficient for college readiness without remediation.