Are We Beginning to See the Light?Presentation Transcript
On November 23, 2009, President Obama announced the Educate to Innovate campaign:
“ Whether it's improving our health or harnessing clean energy, protecting our security or succeeding in the global economy, our future depends on reaffirming America's role as the world's engine of scientific discovery and technological innovation. And that leadership tomorrow depends on how we educate our students today, especially in math, science, technology and engineering.”
Where we are now:
Job growth in science and engineering fields is outpacing overall job growth by 3:1
( National Science Board, 2008 )
U.S. students rank 25th in math and 21st in science skills internationally
( Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study, 2007 )
School districts spend 50% of professional development funds on science but only 21% on math
( U.S. Department of Education, 2008 )
The survey was designed to explore three key questions:
How receptive are Americans generally – and parents specifically – to expanded STEM study in K-12 education?
Given the significant attention leadership is devoting to the issue, has it become a more urgent issue for people generally?
What misperceptions and gaps in knowledge need to be addressed to help people understand the STEM challenge?
The survey, conducted in December 2009, questioned 1406 individuals, including 646 parents
Margin of error: ±2.8% (See www.publicagenda.org for more details on the methodology)
Overview: Five key findings
Most Americans see STEM education as a doorway to future opportunities but are less likely to see STEM skills as an advantage in today’s economy.
Most parents want their own child to take more math and science courses and are receptive to various proposed reforms.
Parents support investing in STEM education, especially in areas where they see potential careers.
There is still an urgency gap between leaders and the public – most are confident that local schools are doing a good job.
Advanced math and science in high school and science instruction in elementary grades are still not priorities for the public.
1. Most Americans see STEM education as a doorway to future opportunities – getting into college and getting a job in the future. They are less convinced that STEM skills are a special asset in today’s economy.
Studying advanced math and science is seen as important for college and future jobs. Note: Question wording in charts may be slightly edited for space. Full question wording is available at publicagenda.org/pages/math-and-science-ed-2010 . Percentages may not equal 100% due to rounding or the omission of some answer categories.
But only 3 in 10 see a demand for STEM-focused jobs in the current economy. Base: General public
Still, 9 in 10 Americans say studying math and science is useful even for students who don’t pursue STEM careers. Base: General public
2. Most parents want their own children to take more math and science courses, and they are receptive to many ideas for improving STEM education, including:
Having national standards for science and math
Attracting better teachers
Increasing coursework in high school
Having local businesses play a role
Parents want their child to take more STEM courses in high school.
60% of parents strongly agree that “it is very important to me that my child takes some advanced math classes in high school” (24% agree somewhat)
54% of parents strongly agree that “it is very important to me that my child takes some advanced science classes in high school” (27% agree somewhat)
Americans are receptive to national standards and additional course requirements. Percent of the public who say the following would improve math and science : A lot A little Requiring all students to take four years of math in high school 68 % 22 % Requiring students struggling with math or science to spend extra time to catch up 61 % 32 % Requiring all high school students to take a science class that includes lab work 59 % 31 % Requiring all students to take four years of science in high school 54 % 32 % Requiring all 8th grade students to take algebra 54 % 30 % Establishing a national curriculum in MATH so schools everywhere teach the same topics 53 % 27 % Requiring students to pass challenging tests in math and science in order to graduate 50 % 31 % Establishing a national curriculum in SCIENCE so schools everywhere teach the same topics 48 % 30 % Requiring all high school students to take at least one engineering class 39 % 38 %
There is also broad support for other ways to build awareness and strengthen STEM skills. Note: The full question list from this battery is available in the Full Survey Results at publicagenda.org/pages/math-and-science-ed-2010 . Percent of the general public who say the following would improve math and science : A lot A little Have local businesses provide internships and other business partnership programs, so high school students can gain practical job skills 71 % 22 % Putting math and science ideas in television, video games and other media directed towards children 60 % 29 % Attracting better math and science teachers by providing Full college scholarships to people who major in math or science and agree to teach these subjects in public school for at least five years 60 % 29 %
3. Parents support investing in STEM education in a variety of ways – especially to give students more sophisticated technical skills with career potential they can visualize.
Most parents would like to see their local schools spend more money on a variety of STEM education improvements. Percent of parents who say schools should spend more money on: Up-to-date and well-equipped science labs [secondary school parents] 70 % More equipment for hands-on science learning [elementary school parents] 69 % Equipment to help students learn important computer and technology skills [all parents] 68 % Hiring more teachers who are knowledgeable about teaching math [all parents] 65 % Hiring more teachers who are knowledgeable about teaching science [all parents] 62 % Hiring more teachers who are knowledgeable about teaching reading and writing [all parents] 61 %
4. However, there is still an urgency gap between the way leaders and the public see the STEM issue. Parents are somewhat more likely to see improving math and science education in local schools as a priority, but most remain confident their local schools are fine and that most math and science teachers are highly qualified.
More parents say their school should be teaching a lot more math and science than in 2006, but a majority still say that “things are fine as is.” *Source: “Reality Check 2006: Are American Parents and Students Ready for More Math and Science?”
About a quarter of all Americans want to see money go to improving math and science, but other reforms are contenders for limited dollars. Base: General public
Leadership studies show many math and science teachers are not certified in their field.
In middle-school, only 54% of math, 55% of life science and 33% of physical science teachers majored or have full certification in their field. ( NCES, Schools and Staffing Survey, 2003-2004; National Science Foundation, Division of Science Resources Statistics, special tabulations )
In high school, 87% of math, 92% of life science and 78% of physical science are fully qualified, but there are fewer highly-qualified teachers in lower-income and minority schools. ( Ibid .)
Only 43% of graduating seniors are ready for college math, and only 28% are ready for college science. ( ACT College Readiness Report, 2007 )
While leadership believes math and science teachers need major improvement, the public believes math and science teachers are qualified in their subject areas.
78% of Americans believe that “in order to teach science in high school you have to have either majored in science or passed a test that shows they are qualified to teach it.”
71% of Americans believe that “most students studying math in middle and high school are taught by teachers who either majored in math or passed a test that shows they are qualified to teach it.”
Although views have shifted a little, most parents still see behavior issues as more of a problem than low academic standards. Base: Parents of children in grades K-12 *Source: “Reality Check 2006: Are American Parents and Students Ready for More Math and Science?”
5. Study of advanced math and science, such as calculus and physics, in high school and teaching science in elementary grades are still not priorities for the public.
Despite receptivity to ramping up STEM education, most still do not see skills like physics and calculus as essential.
Secondary school parents see applied STEM skills as a higher priority than advanced math and science.
Percent of secondary school parents who say schools should place more emphasis on:
Elementary school parents see technology and hands-on STEM courses as a higher priority than just math concepts.
And nearly 7 in 10 Americans say science can wait until middle and high school. Base: General public
Implications for STEM leaders and educators.
The public is receptive, but leaders have to lead.
The public is open to many different strategies for improving STEM education.
Emphasizing current and future opportunities in fields like engineering, computer programming and statistics would be helpful.
Business and education leaders need to help people understand what needs to happen in their local schools to have top-notch STEM education.
More needs to be done to emphasize the importance of elementary science education.
For complete survey details, visit Public Agenda Online at publicagenda.org/pages/math-and-science-ed-2010 and join the discussion on Facebook and Twitter (@PublicAgenda).
For questions, contact Melissa Feldsher at email@example.com.