Tuesday, October 2, 2012

High Schools Can't Make the STEM Cut

It's not new news that high schools aren't meeting the STEM demands, but the numbers behind the headlines are shocking. Take computer science for example. While computer scientists are in high demand in the United States, only a handful of high schools actually offer any advance training in the subject - and sadly, that number is shrinking.

Here are the facts:

  • Of the more then 42,000 public and private high schools in the U.S., only 2,100 high schools offered the Advanced Placement (AP) test in computer science last year. Brace yourselves - according to a recent Microsoft report, the number of schools offering the AP test in computer science has gone down 25 percent over the past five years!
  • Most schools that offer computer science don't allow it to count toward graduation. Only nine states - Georgia, Missouri, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, Texas and Virgina - allow computer science credits to fulfill core math or science requirements.
  • The other 41 states simply don't regard computer science as either a math or a science.
  • There is an estimated 120,000 new jobs requiring a bachelor's degree in computer science expected in the next year along. Yes, people, 120,00! On top of that, nearly 3.7 million jobs in STEM fields are currently waiting to be filled.
Contributing to the problem, finding qualified computer science teachers is troublesome. Dwindling budgets and strict pay structures makes the task even more difficult. 

On the brighter side, the Microsoft Technology Education and Literacy in School program is currently training tech professionals to work as part-time computer science teachers in high school. The company has big plans over the next three years that include investing $500 million to expand STEM education broadly!

To check out Kelsey Sheehy's full report on the matter, click here.