Why America’s High Schools Are Reforming to Focus On STEM
America’s high schools are reforming to focus on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math). This is largely in response to the changing landscape of the American economy, which has seen a shift towards more technology- and science-based sectors.
The hope is that by providing students with exposure to these fields at an early age, they will be better prepared for the jobs of the future. While there are many benefits to this trend, it also comes with some challenges.
Here we will explore why America’s high schools are reforming to focus on STEM and what this means for students and educators alike.
The Economy is Increasingly Reliant on STEM Jobs
The economy is becoming increasingly reliant on STEM jobs, and this trend is only expected to continue. It is estimated that by 2018, there will be 1.4 million job openings in STEM fields.
However, there is a current shortage of workers with the necessary skills to fill these jobs. A focus on STEM can help to close this gap by providing people with the skills they need to find employment in these high-demand fields. This trend is only expected to continue in the coming years as America’s economy becomes even more reliant on technology and innovation.
Students With Strong STEM Skills are in High Demand
Not only are there more STEM jobs available, but also students with strong STEM skills are in high demand from employers. A recent study by Microsoft found that 83% of respondents believe that STEM skills are important for success in the workforce.
And, of those respondents, nearly half said that they would be willing to pay more for a candidate with strong STEM skills.
A Focus on STEM Will Better Prepare Students for the Future
The world is becoming increasingly digitized and technology-focused, so it only makes sense that our educational system should reflect these changes. By focusing on STEM subjects, we can better prepare students for the types of jobs that will be available in the future.
Additionally, research has shown that a focus on STEM can help to improve critical thinking and problem-solving skills – two skills that are essential for success in any field.
A Focus on STEM Can Help Close the Achievement Gap
There is a significant achievement gap in STEM fields, with minority and low-income students falling behind their more affluent peers. However, studies have shown that a focus on STEM can help to close this gap.
One study found that eighth-grade students who participated in a STEM program were more likely to graduate from high school and enroll in college than their non-STEM counterparts.
More Interested and Engaged Students
Many students become bored or disengaged with traditional school curriculums. However, a focus on STEM can help to keep students interested and engaged in their learning.
This is because STEM subjects are often more hands-on and interactive than other subjects, making them more fun and engaging for students.
A Focus on STEM can Increase College Enrollment and Success
A focus on STEM has been shown to increase both college enrollment and success. In one study, high school students who participated in a STEM program were four times more likely to enroll in college than their non-STEM counterparts.
And, of those who did enroll in college, STEM participants were also more likely to graduate within six years.
A Focus on STEM can Help Reduce the Gender Gap in these Fields
There is a significant gender gap in many STEM fields, with women making up less than 30% of the workforce in some cases. However, a focus on STEM education can help to reduce this gap by getting more girls interested in these fields.
Additionally, studies have shown that girls who participate in STEM programs are more likely to pursue careers in STEM fields than their non-STEM counterparts.
A Focus on STEM can Help Reduce the Unemployment Rate
The unemployment rate is currently at a historic low, but there are still many people who are out of work. A focus on STEM can help to reduce the unemployment rate by providing people with the skills they need to find jobs in these high-demand fields.
Additionally, a focus on STEM can also lead to the creation of new jobs in these fields, further reducing the unemployment rate.
A Focus on STEM Fosters Creativity and Innovation
One of the most important things that we can do for our students is to foster their creativity and innovation. A focus on STEM can help to do this by providing students with the opportunity to think outside the box and come up with new solutions to problems. Additionally, a focus on STEM can also lead to the development of new technologies and products, which can help to drive economic growth.
A Focus on STEM Can Help to Improve the Quality of Life
A focus on STEM can not only lead to better-paying jobs and a stronger economy, but it can also help improve the quality of life. This is because many of the technologies in STEM fields are designed to improve our everyday lives. For example, new medical technologies can help improve our health, and new transportation technologies can help reduce traffic congestion.
Additionally, a focus on STEM can also lead to the development of new green technologies that can help protect our environment.
What Challenges Do You Think This Trend Will Bring? How Can These Challenges Be Overcome?
Focusing on STEM in high school will present some challenges, but there are ways to overcome them. Some of these challenges include;
1. Ensuring that all students have access to quality STEM education.
One way to overcome this challenge is by providing more opportunities for underfunded schools and their students to have access to resources and experienced teachers.
Another way to help close the gap is by offering scholarships or financial aid specifically for minority students who want to pursue careers in STEM-related fields.
2. Making sure that students receive the necessary support outside of school.
This includes providing them with opportunities to explore their interests and work with mentors in the field. Some ways to do this are by connecting high school students with college students or professionals who can offer guidance, or by creating programs that allow students to shadow workers in various STEM careers.
3. Facing pressure to improve test scores.
Many high schools are feeling the pressure to improve their test scores. In response, they are turning to STEM subjects as a way to boost student achievement. This is because STEM courses often require more critical thinking and problem-solving than other subjects. As a result, students who take them tend to score better on standardized tests.
4. Keeping up with the competition.
Some high schools are struggling to keep up with the competition as more and more focus on STEM. Those that don’t will find themselves at a disadvantage, especially when trying to attract top students and families.
5. Deciding what content is most important to include in the curriculum.
With so many different areas of focus in STEM, it can be difficult for educators to decide what content is most important to include in their high school curriculum. One way to make this decision is by surveying students and finding out which topics they are most interested in learning about.
6. Ensuring that the curriculum is engaging for all students.
Another challenge that educators face when reformulating their curriculum to focus on STEM is ensuring that it is engaging for all students. This can be done by incorporating hands-on activities, real-world applications, and project-based learning into lesson plans.
7. Addressing the needs of diverse learners.
When designing a STEM curriculum, it is crucial to consider the needs of all learners, including those with special needs or English language learners. This can be done by providing accommodations or modifying assignments as needed.
8. Training teachers to teach STEM subjects.
Many high schools are struggling to find teachers who are qualified to teach STEM courses. As a result, they are turning to alternative methods of training, such as online courses or workshops. In addition, some schools are partnering with local colleges and universities to provide their teachers with the necessary training.
America’s high schools have been reforming to focus on STEM education in order to better prepare students for the future. However, this shift brings with it a number of challenges that must be overcome in order for these students to be successful.
At High School of America, we are committed to helping our students meet these challenges and thrive in their new environment.
Contact us today to learn more about how we can help your child succeed in the rapidly changing world of STEM education.