# STEM-the future of our country depends upon how seriously we take this initiative

STEM; when many of you see this phrase you might think of trees or plants, or you might think of stems cells, for better or for worse. When I talk about STEM I am refereeing to Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics in school systems and in the work place. As a “recovering geek” I have made the promotion of STEM one of my missions in life because our country continues to fall further behind in our innovative talents and science know-how. This post will be the first a series talking about STEM and it is my hope that you will get on the bandwagon with me.

As an opening post I will share a few things you have to look forward to. Some of the posts will come from information I have gathered on the ‘Net or from friends, but much of the information will come from my own personal experiences.

Let’s take a look at the lineup in this series:

- ACE-Mentor program
- GK-12 program
- Math Counts
- Other interesting local initiatives

I hope this list catches enough of your interest to have you come back. Let me share a few statistics that may also get your attention:

__Transition to Higher Education (from http://nsf.gov/statistics/seind10/c1/c1h.htm) __

**Most Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries outperform the United States in terms of secondary school completion.**

- In 2006, the United States ranked 17th among 23 OECD countries with data available on the rate of student secondary school completion.

**On-time high school graduation rates have remained steady in the United States, and large gaps between racial/ethnic groups persist.**

- The nationwide on-time graduation rate was 73% in 2006, and the on-time graduation rate for white students was approximately 20 percentage points higher than the rate for black and Hispanic students.

**Student test taking in Advanced Placement (AP) mathematics and science subjects has increased rapidly since 1990.**

- The number of test takers increased in virtually all AP mathematics and science subjects in 2008. In some subjects, the number of test takers increased fivefold or more, although participants remain a small proportion of the high school population. Fifteen percent of the class of 2008 earned a score of 3 or higher on at least one AP test during high school.
- The number of students passing an AP exam is also increasing. Almost 250,000 students passed a mathematics AP exam in 2008, compared with just over 50,000 in 1990, and more than 200,000 passed a science AP exam in 2008, compared with fewer than 50,000 in 1990.

**Among high school graduates in 2004, earning credits for advanced science and mathematics courses was linked to higher rates of postsecondary enrollment at 4-year colleges and lower rates of postsecondary remediation, confirming the results of earlier studies.**

- Among students with two or more advanced mathematics or science credits, 88% and 90%, respectively, enrolled in a 4-year college within 2 years of high school graduation, compared with only 22% and 12% of students with no advanced credits.
- More than 40% of students whose highest mathematics course was less advanced than algebra II reported taking remedial mathematics at the postsecondary level, compared with 17% of students who had taken calculus.

The information is not all bad, but we are increasingly in battle, a race, to keep up with many other growing economies that value STEM education much more than we do in America.

I’ll get off my soapbox now and hope that you will return for the next post on Thursday of this week.