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The "vital signs" of WA's STEM education

Change the Equation has released a new study that shows the state of STEM education across the U.S. Vital Signs looks at the demand for and supply of STEM skills, what states expect of students, students’ access to learning opportunities and the resources schools and teachers have to do their work.

The report overview notes that while Washington’s students have made some progress in math over the past ten years, student access is limited when it comes to content challenging enough to prepare them for college and careers in the STEM field. According to the report, “Washington’s high school graduation requirements in math and science do not align with college entrance requirements, which may contribute to the high cost of math remediation for its underprepared college students.”

The study also shows that students in Washington spend significantly more time doing hands on projects than the national average, (89 vs. 74 percent) but spend less time talking about the “kinds of problems engineers solve” in the classroom (11 vs. 15 percent). Further, deep gaps exist between students of color and their white peers in science and math scores, as shown in the graph below:

While serious issues persist, the report does commend Washington’s commitment to adopting the Common Core standards and its return on investment when in comes to spending on STEM. In fact, Washington “gets a larger return on its investment in math and science education than most other states do. It spends $19,244 per proficient student in math and science, placing it in the top quintile for all states for the return on its investment.”

Explore the data for yourself here or download a summary version here (PDF).

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