The latest career statistics and economic projections emphasize the new prerequisites for economic survival in today’s STEM-driven competitive world. Consider the following:
· The 2006 Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) reported that the average mathematics score for 15-year-old U.S. students was lower than the scores in 18 out of 24 comparison nations.
· The number of countries scoring higher than the United States on the PISA science assessment increased from 6 countries to 12 over the past six years.
· A survey conducted by the Lawrence Hall of Science at the University of California, Berkeley concluded that 80% of K-5 teachers in the San Francisco Bay area spent 60 minutes or less per week teaching science. Over 16% of them reported spending no time at all delivering science instruction.
· In the 2013 Horizon Research survey, researchers found that K-2 classes spend an average of 18 minutes per day on science, while grades 3–5 teachers were teaching science an average of 23 minutes per day.
· Statistics from the National Science Foundation website indicate that STEM achievement in secondary education is also decreasing overall in American schools.
The conventional practice of delving deeply in a study of the sciences in high school is coming under long-overdue scrutiny. According to a 2010 report from the International Journal of Science Education, over 65% of scientists and science graduate students reported that their personal interest in the sciences began before their middle school years. Building the necessary background knowledge that is essential for success in secondary STEM courses requires an early foundation for science beginning in the elementary grades.