Falling Dangerously Behind in Math and Science
American students are falling behind in the essential subjects of math and science, putting our position in the global economy at risk. Yet, recruiting and retaining competent and passionate teachers in these subject areas remains one of education’s most intractable dilemmas.
Like the rest of the nation, Texas and the DFW metroplex face a critical shortage of highly qualified math and science teachers. This shortage is getting worse and threatens America’s economic competitiveness.
Here are just a few examples among many.
Did you know?
- U.S. students recently finished 15th in reading, 19th in math, and 14th in science in the ranking of 31 countries by the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development.
- More than 40 percent of Texas secondary students are taught by teachers who didn’t even major in the subject they teach.
- Fewer than one in four Texas high school graduates is ready for college-level science.
- Only 5 percent of U.S. college graduates major in science or engineering, compared with 42 percent in China.
About a third of high school math students and two-thirds of those enrolled in physical science have teachers who did not major in the subject in college or are not certified to teach it. There is an essential need for investment in teacher preparation and professional development programs as a way to improve student achievement and produce a better-prepared workforce.
“If you can solve the education problem, you don't have to do anything else. If you don't solve it, nothing else is going to matter all that much."
—Alan Greenspan, former Federal Reserve Board Chairman
The lack of certified science and math teachers is a growing concern for schools around the nation, especially in low-income areas. Competent and engaged teachers are needed to inspire students to pursue a career in math and science. If Americans continue to remain disengaged in this challenge, the United States’ role as a leader in technology development and scientific research will continue to diminish.
“We stand in real danger of falling behind in innovative capacity. Most of the good-paying jobs that will be created in this country in the future will require a whole lot more math and science literacy than in the past.”
—Tom Luce, former CEO NMSI