What’s behind the rise of STEM education in schools? How is it shaping the workplace of tomorrow?
STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. There was a push for greater emphasis on these fields in 2005. It happened after a report detailing the dire economic conditions that would be created if these subjects weren’t immediately included in schools across the country.
Now, just 15 years later, how has this shift played out?
The Problem With A Major Paradigm Shift
While schools certainly do their best to prepare students for careers, a major paradigm shift takes time to implement. This is because there are barriers such as a lack of trained staff that make offering new courses difficult.
If you want to teach kids science, you need science teachers and often, you’ll have to wait years to have enough qualified teachers. It also takes time to develop and deploy new curricula.
How Schools Are Addressing STEM
In 2007, there has been an increase in funding for STEM education through the America Competes Act. Most of the funds went sponsor teachers’ scholarships to teach the subjects.
By 2013, the Next Generation Science Standards were established. It created the benchmarks for research-based learning targets in the areas of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Partnerships were formed between several organizations that aimed to propel STEM education forward.
In 2015, there has been another increase in funding. This time, it was through the Every Student Succeeds Act. This funding was used to increase after-school activities and field trips relating to STEM fields. It also funded professional development for teachers teaching this material as well as the materials needed in classrooms and fun magnet programs for STEM education.
Computer science was also added as a core subject of the STEM curriculum.
Why Does STEM Matter?
In 2005, when the alarm bells were sounded about STEM education, 51% of patents issued in the United States were owned by foreign companies or individuals. After 15 years of STEM education, this is still the case.
While progress is being made, 92% of employers say they have a growing need for employees with STEM skills. 74% say finding those employees is growing more difficult.
Progress Being Made
The good news is that we are just now starting to see the first waves of students graduate who went through their entire K-12 education with an emphasis on STEM.
Between 2010-2016, there was 43% growth in undergraduate STEM majors in colleges. By 2018, three out of four college students planned to pursue a STEM major. Today, 86% of high school students plan to pursue a STEM degree once they reach university.
It took years to get qualified professionals in place to teach these subjects and that hard work is finally starting to pay off. Currently, eight of the top ten fastest growing jobs are in STEM field. In 2018, 2.4 million STEM job openings went unfilled.
When it comes to testing scores, STEM education is moving the needle but still not quite enough. Between the years 1995 and 2015, U.S. students were able to dramatically improve their math skills in both 4th and 8th grades.
Unfortunately, at that time, science scores did not show the same promise. Students performing badly had an increase in testing scores while high performing students’ scores showed a slight decline.
In the three years that followed, however, the United States improved its ranking worldwide in math and science 10th grade scores – from 35th in math and 17th in science in 2015 to 30th in math and 11th in science worldwide.
See Also: STEM careers – How to Find the Best Job
Why Is STEM So Important?
Even if students don’t go into STEM fields, STEM education can provide many skills that transfer over to other fields. The hands-on learning opportunities in many STEM schools and classrooms teach kids creativity, problem-solving, and collaboration skills they aren’t getting in other subjects.
More importantly, it teaches kids that even if they don’t know the answer to something, they can rely on the expertise and creativity of those around them to solve complex problems.
Why is STEM education so important?
It teaches the next generation in the workforce the skills they will need to solve the problems of the future. Find out more about the rise of STEM in schools and how it will impact the workforce of tomorrow from the infographic below.
Source: Early Childhood Education Degrees