First a definition for STEM jobs: STEM is an acronym for the fields of science, technology, engineering and math.
Now – notice my headline above…
ACT scores predict 20% of college-bound high school seniors can expect to do well in ‘STEM’ careers
…seems like pretty “positive” news don’t’ you think?
Check out the headline below. See the word FEW? Now look at the first word in the lead (opening sentence) of the news article below… see it? It’s the word: ONLY.
Now read the whole sentence. Then read my headline again. Both are truthful statements, but which one seems more accurate? ”
Keep this definition in mind: Truth is the correctness of an assertion. Accuracy is the precision with which the assertion is stated.”
You see, the words FEW and ONLY make the FACT that according to their ACT scores, “20 percent of college-bound high school seniors” are predicted to do well in STEM careers. Now, let’s look at that another way. For the sake of example, let’s say EVERY SINGLE ONE of those high school seniors (20 out of 100) chose to go off to college intending to earn a STEM field degree. Could we say this, that based on their ACT scores, 100 percent of those students choosing to major in STEM careers is predicted be successful in college? Would that be truthful? Would it be accurate?
I would argue that based current employment and job projections STEM careers simply will not need anywhere near 20 percent of college-bound high school seniors to even consider majoring in STEM careers and furthermore, some of the 80 percent deemed unlikely to succeed in STEM career education may in fact end up doing very, very well. Isn’t it truthful AND accurate to state that some number of college-bound high school seniors deemed the least-likely to succeed end up being the most successful?
My point here is that pushing a FEW & ONLY-agenda is problematic. It reveals a bias toward a litany of “truths” — that most high school students are unprepared for college – that high school teachers are not preparing their students for success – that future success is measured by present-day test scores – that in general not enough high school student are going off to college – and that in particular that the demand for STEM careers/jobs in the future is going far exceed the supply of college grads ready and able to fill them.
Now, here’s the opening paragraph to a recent US News report on “Best STEM Jobs”…
Google “STEM jobs” and you’ll notice conflicting conclusions about the industry in the search results. The number of job openings is staggering. Actually, there aren’t as many openings as originally reported. Women and minorities aren’t interested in STEM jobs. Women and minorities are interested in these positions. The skills gap is real. The skills gap is a myth. Part of the bipolarity surrounding STEM coverage is that many commentators and job seekers don’t actually know what qualifies as a STEM occupation. Allow us to clear the cobwebs. Our Best STEM Jobs of 2015 list doesn’t just include occupations from the disciplines of science, technology, engineering and mathematics – we’re recommending these 20 because of their swelling hiring demand and low unemployment rates. Not every job involves work in a lab. Not every job involves an expensive four-year-plus training process, either. See how we rank the jobs, and take a look at what the STEM industry really looks like.
Here’s the link: http://money.usnews.com/careers/best-jobs/rankings/best-stem-jobs
Once there, you will find a list of 20 jobs – careers – all are in the general STEM category. Some of the 20 jobs require post-secondary education – in fact most do. But no where near all require a 4-year degree. And I would argue that the ACT benchmarks for predicting STEM career readiness would not even apply to most. Maybe you are wondering, “Well Jeff, why do you keep reading EdWeek articles?”
Good question. Here’s why – they force me to ponder what I really think about a subject and to keep focused on the hidden (or not-so-hidden) agendas of faux-media sources of information about secondary school education, educators, high-stakes testing, college-for-all mania et. al.
Read the US News article – it’s a fast read – 20 items – fast-growing jobs – not necessarily where the majority of new job openings will be mind you – that’s a whole other subject – but a STEM list with lots of variety. Jobs actually, that you might not have thought of as STEM fields. And yes, go ahead and read the FEW and ONLY article too. I sure hope you can see through the bias and determine for yourself that there’s an agenda therein. Think about this… if there is a glut of degreed STEM graduates looking for work, will that INFLATE wages or DEFLATE wages for those college graduates? Who benefits by an over-supply of STEM job applicants? Is having 20 percent of high school seniors predicted to be highly-qualified for STEM careers enough? Not enough? Too many? There you go… you’ll figure this one out .
- Mr. Journalism
Few Students Meet ACT’s New Mark
for College Readiness in STEM Fields
Only 20 percent of high school students who took the ACT are academically ready for the rigor of the first-year college courses they’ll likely have to take if they’re planning to major in science, technology, engineering or math, according to a report released Wednesday.
The ACT’s third “Condition of STEM” report examines the performance of students who took the college admissions exam in 2015. This year’s report is the first to analyze the students’ performance against a new “STEM benchmark” that was added to the test in the fall of 2015.
The ACT produces scores in four areas: English, math, reading, and science. Students can compare their scores in each area to the ACT’s “college readiness benchmark” scores, which indicate a strong likelihood of success in entry-level, credit-bearing college courses. Those college-readiness scores range from 18 to 23.
The STEM benchmark is a new addition, and is a blend of a student’s scores in science and math. But it’s based on a more rigorous expectation than the single-subject science or math college-readiness benchmarks in past reports. That’s because of recent ACT research that suggested that higher-caliber performance in high school is necessary for good results in college courses such as physics, calculus, chemistry, or biology, typical choices for entering students who aspire to major in STEM disciplines.
As a result, the ACT STEM score that correlates with its typical definition of college readiness—a 50 percent chance of getting a B in a college course, and a 75 percent chance of earning a C—is 26.
Because the STEM college-readiness benchmark is so high, the “rates of attainment are extremely low,” ACT officials said in a statement released with the results. Only 1 in 5 ACT-tested students in the class of 2015 met that mark.
The finding prompted ACT officials to echo their previous years’ warnings that K-12 educators must take steps to bolster students’ skills in STEM areas, since they are a key source of fast-growing, good-paying career fields and an important element of American competitiveness.
The “Condition of STEM” report also examines students’ interest in those fields. Those results were about the same as in the 2014 report, with about half of high school students who took the ACT interested in STEM careers and college majors.
While interest in STEM careers and majors overall remains unchanged from last year, however, student interest in STEM has risen 1 percent in the last four years.
Student interest in the subfields within STEM shows some interesting patterns during that period, too. In the last four years, the percentage of students interested in computer science and math majors, and in engineering and technology majors, has increased by 2 percent, while the percentage of students interested in medical and health majors has declined by 3 percent, according to the ACT report.