STEM in Action: MathCounts

As I continue my review of the value and importance of STEM to the United States I want to take some time today to talk about another STEM initiative, the MathCounts program.   

Before we talk about this program I will share some sobering information and statistics that should help you better understand just how “the might USA has fallen” when compared with our peers and peers to be in the world.

In a Bloomberg article from last December you will see a comprehensive comparison of the current test scores of the USA when compared with OECD countries as well as many others in the world. Let me share a few quotes from the article so that you can see just where we are (you might want to sit down when you read this.)

  • Fifteen-year-olds in the U.S. ranked 25th among peers from 34 countries on a math test and scored in the middle in science and reading, while China’s Shanghai topped the charts, raising concern that the U.S. isn’t prepared to succeed in the global economy.
  • U.S. 15-year-olds had an average score of 487 in math on a 1,000-point scale. Shanghai students scored 600, Singapore, 562; South Korea, Hong Kong, 555; Finland, 541.
  • The U.S. is traditionally ranked against other OECD countries. On an absolute basis, students from 24 of 34 OECD countries had higher scores than U.S. students, and the Education Department said 17 were better on a statistically significant basis.
  • Microsoft Corp. Chairman Bill Gates urged top U.S. public- school officials to overhaul teacher pay, saying on Nov. 19 that instructors should be rewarded for results rather than seniority or advanced degrees. Gates, whose Seattle-based Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation funds education programs, said the U.S. may also find money for merit pay by increasing class size. Duncan has also endorsed that approach.

There have been some rays of sunshine during this period, especially the Race to the Top program that has been implemented in the states of  Tennessee (Tennessee Score) and Delaware.  A second round of funding placed funds in the states of Rhode Island, Ohio, North Carolina, New York, Massachusetts, Maryland, Hawaii, Georgia, Florida and the District of Columbia.


MATHCOUNTS is a national enrichment, club and competition program that promotes middle school mathematics achievement through grassroots involvement in every U.S. state and territory.

The MATHCOUNTS Competition Program provides the extra incentive and the perfect atmosphere for students to push themselves to achieve more in mathematics.  Consisting of fun and creative problems that promote critical-thinking and problem-solving skills, the MATHCOUNTS competitions have written and oral rounds, as well as individual and team components.  Though challenging and non-routine, the competition problems focus on the 6th through 8th grade standards of the National Council of Teachers in Mathematics.  (from

Mathcounts is an important cog in the STEM wheel, but we still need to do more.

What are you and your business doing to promote STEM within your business and your community?

Will you make a difference?