CED Report Asks Businesses To Bolster Science, Math Education
for Economic Development (CED) released a report last week that
addresses three challenges for improving math and science education:
increasing students' interest in these fields, demonstrating the
wonder of discovery while improving students' mastery of math and
science skills, and acknowledging the professionalism of teachers.
Learning for the Future: Changing the Culture of Math and Science
Education to Ensure a Competitive Workforce contends that to
accomplish these goals, both student "demand" for and
achievement in science and math must be increased, and all stakeholders
in science and math education must work toward that effort.
The CED based
its report on recent indicators (such as national and international
assessment tests) that show science and math achievement among K–12
students is disappointing. While the report cited some positive
trends in K–12 education in the United States, it also noted
that a majority of indicators point to the need for reform and refinement
of current educational practice.
the challenges in science and math education, the report states
that America's fourth graders achieve good scores in science and
math compared to their foreign peers, but 12th graders' scores tend
to fall at the bottom of such rankings. Students' interest in math
and science topics have declined; many students are faced with a
lack of challenging courses, while others, especially minorities,
are discouraged from taking such courses. In addition, out-of-field
teaching is rampant among math and science teachers, and school
systems face serious teacher retention obstacles.
The CED report
recommends that businesses collaborate with school districts to
ensure students' exposure to state-of-the-art programs that explain
how math and science are used on the job; provide financial and
logistical support, as well as the expertise of their employees,
to develop extracurricular math and science programs; and collaborate
with higher education institutions to promote professional opportunities
available to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM)
graduates. The report says higher education institutions should
track the number of graduates in STEM programs and audit the effectiveness
of their science and engineering programs. School districts should
review their curricula and ensure that their programs promote active
learning and meet established educational standards. Successful
programs should be replicated, and businesses should help make these
programs more accessible.
should collaborate with school districts and institutions of higher
learning to provide staff development, establish programs that bring
scientists and engineers into schools to work with students, develop
summer professional development programs for teachers and internships
for aspiring teachers, and work with governments to refine state
education standards, recommends the report. Colleges and universities
should emphasize content knowledge, an understanding of how society
can use that knowledge, and pedagogical training in preservice programs.
the professionalism of teachers, the report suggests, state governments
should work with districts to increase teachers' salaries; with
boards of education to develop high-quality programs to certify
professional scientists, mathematicians, and engineers as teachers;
and with one another to develop reciprocal teacher licensing systems.
In addition, state pension programs should provide incentives for
veteran teachers who continue to work, even if those teachers move
to a new school, district, or state, the report recommends.
of business partners is the first step in a larger strategy to improve
math and science education and maintain the pipeline into science
and engineering fields," the report concludes. "This is
a commitment that all businesspeople, both inside and out of the
scientific establishment, should consider. The perils facing math
and science education in America have been foretold for decades.
It is now time to act, as businesspeople and academics, leaders
and citizens, to solve these problems."
To read the
report, go to www.ced.org.