According to data accumulated by the U.S. Department of Education, only 16 percent of American high school seniors in 2015 were proficient in mathematics and/or possessed an interest in a STEM-oriented career path. Combined with projections that 3 million positions utilizing these skills will remain unfilled by 2018, it makes little sense to deprive students of incredible opportunities and stimulating experiences in a rewarding career. Thankfully, many secondary schools across North America are making great strides in reversing this harmful developmental process, inspiring today’s youth to think and work differently.
STEM Improvements Encouraged by Educational Professionals
Thanks to widespread instructor education and program adoption, however, teachers and administrators more strongly believe in the value of STEM education as a viable means of improving post-secondary student learning. The Toronto District School Board’s 2016 report on STEM research indicates that over 90% of these professionals possessed this positive attitude towards it. In addition, 87% of teachers believed that STEM education would improve their own teaching practice and efficiency. Finally, 82% of teachers and 98% of administrators wanted to see the TDSB STEM strategy continued in schools. This last statistic is key, as it indicates that not only is STEM adoption in North American school boards being well-received, but also encouraged by instructors and administrative professionals who know the ins and outs of the education system.
Instructor Training and Curriculum Adjustment
That being said, insufficient knowledge around assessment practices and learning strategies pertaining to secondary school STEM education is still prevalent across North America. This is being combated through advanced training and instructing of educators and administrators, as well as careful planning and conceptualization of curriculum for classroom inception. One of the main complaints is the need to better address how to assess group projects, and this is being met through enhanced cooperative programming and instructor-student and student-student interaction. Digital portfolios, for example, are serving as simplified yet more effective ways of analyzing program data and communicating ideas to students and instructors.
Shop class has been more or less replaced or updated across North America to better encourage the development of engineering and mathematical skills, and various federal grants, scholarships, and forms of community support continue to generate interest in STEM-oriented variants of existing programs. Mathematics, for example, is more involved and focused on intricate problem solving from a younger age, and while advanced, instructors present curriculum that supports stimulation and motivation to harbor active learning.
Combined with post-secondary preparation classes and events focused on STEM career paths, students are more than ever being gently nudged in a direction that benefits them in the future. Incentivized and more actively driven to expand their STEM education beyond high school or private institutional learning environments, it is predicted that within the next few years we will see a renewed spike in interest in technological, scientific, math-oriented, or engineering careers making use of advanced skillsets.