Forget the conventional wisdom. U.S. schools are turning out more capable science and engineering grads than the job market can support. A new report by the Urban Institute, a nonpartisan think tank, tells a different story from the constant doom and gloom harangue from certain political leaders, tech executives, and academics who’ve claimed that the U.S. is falling behind in math and science education. We’ve heard much about poor test results, declining international rankings, and decreasing enrollment in the hard sciences. They have urged us to improve our education system and to graduate more engineers and scientists to keep pace with countries such as India and China. The Urban Institute’s Hal Salzman and Georgetown University professor Lindsay Lowell have a different story to report. They show that math, science, and reading test scores at the primary and secondary level have actually increased over the past two decades, and U.S. students are now close to the top of international rankings. Perhaps just as surprising, the report finds that our education system actually produces more science and engineering graduates than the market demands.
An abstract from the study:
Recent policy reports claim the United States is falling behind other nations in science and math education and graduating insufficient numbers of scientists and engineers. Review of the evidence and analysis of actual graduation rates and workforce needs does not find support for these claims. U.S. student performance rankings are comparable to other leading nations and colleges graduate far more scientists and engineers than are hired each year. Instead, the evidence suggests targeted education improvements are needed for the lowest performers and demand-side factors may be insufficient to attract qualified college graduates.