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Who Better to Evaluate our K-12 STEM Programs than American Scientists


The Pew Research Center conducted a survey of scientists and the general population to help understand how science and public opinion intersect. Pew surveyed general American citizens and scientists affiliated with the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Survey questions asked for their thoughts on everything from STEM education to climate change to the genetically modified foods.

The results were fascinating, but the specific results that stood out the most to us were those that showed what American scientists think about American K-12 STEM education. Who better to evaluate STEM education than the very scientists who work in STEM fields today?

STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. STEM has made national news over the last few years because students who study in STEM-related degree programs during college are likely to earn more money in their careers. This income gap is sustained for STEM majors, regardless of whether they pursue work in a STEM-related field.

Most American high school students don’t graduate high school ready to study university-level science, technology, engineering, or mathematics. This lack of preparation — and the resulting lack of qualified candidates for STEM-industry jobs — is referred to as the STEM Crisis.

Pew’s research project didn’t set out to prove or disprove the existence of a crisis in STEM education, but the results of its survey could absolutely be used to advance advocacy for STEM education: Nearly half of American scientists believe that K-12 STEM education is “below average” compared to K-12 STEM education in other industrialized nations.

What will it take for America’s public schools (and Missouri’s public schools) to take the lead in global STEM education? What will it take for us to send our high school seniors off to college, fully prepared to excel in college-level science, technology, engineering, and mathematics classes? Missouri Parent doesn’t have all the answers, but we will continue to research and write about the importance of STEM education in Missouri public schools.

Here are a few of the takeaways from the Pew study:

· Only 16% of AAAS scientists rank American K-12 STEM education as above average or the best in the world.
· Just 29% of the general public rank American K-12 STEM education as above average or the best in the world.
· A whopping 46% of AAAS scientists believe that America’s K-12 STEM education programs are “below average”.
· 29% of the general public believes that America’s K-12 STEM education programs are “below average”.
· Scientists also believe that the general public’s limited scientific knowledge is a result of poor K-12 STEM education.

You can read the Pew Research Center’s report (which is the source of all statistics used in this Missouri Parent post) here.

More Missouri Parent Posts About STEM Education:
What is the STEM Crisis?
Girl Scout Embrace STEM
A Missouri University Embracing STEM Education for Public Schools
INFOGRAPHIC: The Facts About Women and STEM

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