The Commerce Department estimates that thousands of new jobs will be created in STEM fields in the next few years. STEM – short for Science Technology, Engineering and Math is shorthand for various education initiatives designed to address a perceived lack of qualified candidates for technology-related jobs. To capitalize on these new opportunities, states will have to offer a full array of high quality math and science courses..
Many believe the implementation of Common Core standards with its emphasis on fostering coherent content and real-world problem solving skills will help to boost STEM enrollments.
The only problem is it isn’t working.
Last year a Pioneer Institute report showed how Common Core Math fails make students “college and career-ready or to make students ready to study in critical STEM fields. Last week American Enterprise Institute Researchers Frederick Hess and Michael McShane came to the same conclusion when they wrote:
Unfortunately, our K-12 education system is not preparing enough students to take advantage of this opportunity. One way we know this is by looking at passage rates on tests in STEM fields on AP exams. AP exams are given to high performing high school students looking to gain credit for college courses. Usually earning a 3 or better (out of 5) will be enough for a university to recognize that a student has mastered the content.
The top five states with graduating students who had passed one or more AP STEM exams were Massachusetts (16.0%), Maryland (15.9%), Connecticut (15.4%), Virginia (13.9%), New York (13.7%), and New Jersey (13.1%). In most of the best-performing states, not even one in six high school graduates had passed an AP STEM exam.
Hess and McShane continued:
These results are disconcerting because not only are computer science jobs lucrative and available, they are also critical for national security, competitiveness and entrepreneurship. In addition, they often offer rewarding and flexible occupations. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a 30% increase in demand for software developers over the next half-dozen years, a job for which average annual pay was over $90,000 in 2012.
These jobs will surely be filled — but not necessarily by an American. That means firms will either find ways to import those who can do the work or they’ll export those jobs to places where skilled employees are plentiful. Either scenario is a loser for America and its youth.
If too few of our best students are even qualifying in these areas, new Common Core math standards that in effect lower the bar will only make things worse. .
Do we have the backbone to deal with an uncomfortable truth? Common Core math standards are not increasing the number STEM graduates.