To stay competitive as a nation, the U.S. needs more STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) professionals who can be the next generation of scientists that creates new, innovative technologies and solves world problems. It is hard to be an international leader, however, when U.S. K-12 students have poor STEM performance and a decreasing interest in STEM careers.
As reported by the Pew Research Center, testing of 15-year-olds in dozens of countries placed the U.S. 35th out of 64 countries in math and 27th in science. In addition, fewer students are entering STEM fields, especially engineering. According to the National Science Foundation, although about one-third of all undergraduate degrees are in STEM, only five percent of them are in engineering.
"It is well known that the country's ability to succeed in the global economy is lagging and that we are losing our unrivaled edge in mathematics, science, and innovation to competitor nations," Sharon Robinson, president and chief executive for the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, told the U.S. Senate's STEM Education Caucus in June 2015.