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Why STEM?

STEM is the future.

STEM learning is an economic imperative. Experts say that technological innovation accounted for almost half of U.S. economic growth over the past 50 years, and almost all of the 30 fastest-growing occupations in the next decade will require at least some background in STEM.

Yet as many STEMtisticsSM show, our country is falling behind in science, technology, engineering and mathematics:

  • In 2009, just 34 percent of U.S. 8th graders were rated proficient or higher in a national math assessment, and more than one in four scored below the basic level.
  • In an international exam given to 15 year olds in 2009, U.S. high school students ranked significantly behind 12 industrialized nations in science and 17 in math. Students in only 4 industrialized nations scored lower in math.
  • Only 45 percent of U.S. high school graduates in 2011 were ready for college work in math and 30 percent were ready in science. (Data sources)

For more, research and data that guides the STEM conversation, check STEMtisticsSM. STEM literacy has a profound and growing impact on our day-to-day lives. It helps us make critical decisions about our health care, our finances and our retirement. It illuminates the ever more complex issues that govern the future of our democracy, and it reveals to us the beauty and power of the world we inhabit.

A literate nation not only reads. It computes, investigates and innovates.

Facts and Figures

69%: Share of U.S. students who graduated from high school with a regular diploma in four years (2007)

47%: The share of black males who graduated from high school with a regular diploma in four years (2008)

45%: Share of 2011 U.S. high school graduates who are ready for college-level math

30%: Share of 2011 U.S. high school students who are ready for college-level science

17 nations: The number of industrialized nations whose high schoolers performed significantly better than U.S. students in math

3 million: The projected shortage of workers with U.S. college degrees, associates or better, by 2018

Click here for data sources.

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