Interesting findings from the recently released National Condition of STEM-2014 Report (see attached)
1. Interest in STEM remains high. Similar to last year, approximately half (49%) of ACT-tested 2014 graduates—nearly 900,000 students—had an interest in STEM. While this level of interest is encouraging, the findings suggest more must be done to keep interested students engaged in STEM fields as they move into postsecondary education and transition into the workplace.
2. Achievement levels in math and science need to improve. While large numbers of students are interested in STEM, achievement levels remain far too low to foster success in most STEM fields. Overall, just 43% of ACT-tested 2014 graduates met the ACT College Readiness Benchmark in math, and only 37% met the Benchmark in science. Among graduates interested in STEM, Benchmark attainment was only slightly higher: 50% in math and 43% in science.
3. Achievement levels are highest when STEM interest is both expressed and measured. Students who have both expressed and measured interest in STEM are more likely to meet three or more ACT College Readiness Benchmarks, suggesting they are better prepared for success in college coursework. Furthermore, STEM students who aspire to higher levels of education are more likely to have an expressed and measured interest than those with lower aspirations.
4. Female interest in STEM is high. Males are more likely than females to be interested in STEM, but the actual number of females who are interested in STEM is quite high. Male interest in STEM tends to be driven by engineering and math, while female interest is driven by medical/health and, surprisingly, the sciences. Nursing is the single biggest interest area for females in medical/health, while biology is the biggest interest area for them in the sciences. Other STEM areas of particularly strong interest to females are animal sciences, biochemistry and biophysics, cell/cellular biology, chemistry, genetics, and marine aquatic biology.
5. Interest in teaching STEM subject areas is low. The number of graduates who are interested in teaching math or science is low compared to the likely future demand for such teachers. The proposed federal STEM Teacher Pathways program seeks to produce 100,000 high-quality math and science teachers in the next decade. Out of the more than 1.8 million 2014 graduates tested, however, only 4,424 students expressed an interest in teaching math, while a meager 1,115 expressed an interest in teaching science.
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