Report: U.S. Economic Leadership Vulnerable Due To Poor Performance in Math, Science

Report: U.S. Economic Leadership Vulnerable Due To Poor Performance in Math, Science

By Ronald Roach

WASHINGTON
Armed with one of the most comprehensive and current reviews of data available, top corporate and higher education leaders last month said that the United States’ lackluster performance in science and math has placed the nation in serious danger of losing its competitive edge in the global marketplace.

The data — presented in a new report by the Business-Higher Education Forum (BHEF) — is part of a joint effort of the business and higher education communities to objectively analyze the most recent and up-to-date information available on America’s performance in math and science education.

“The most recent data about the performance of United States’ students in math and science is cause for deep concern,” says William H. Swanson, chairman and CEO of Raytheon Co. and co-chair of the BHEF’s

Initiative on Mathematics and Science Education. “Technology is the lifeblood of our country because innovation builds prosperity and good quality jobs for our increasingly diverse workforce. If we don’t invest in and improve student achievement in math and science, there are serious implications for the business community, the U.S. economy and our quality of life.”

The report, “A Commitment to America’s Future: Responding to the Crisis in Mathematics and Science Education,” warns that if current trends continue, the United States will lose is preeminence in science and technology and its leadership position in innovation. The report notes that the one source of American inefficiency in math and science is the lack of holistic, system-wide solutions.

For example, the supply and demand statistics on math and science teachers are not encouraging. The report indicates that 260,000 to 290,000 new high-school math and science teachers will be needed in the 2008 school year. Yet, even with years of advance warning, coordinated action is not being taken to recruit and retain quality teachers, according to the report.

“Research repeatedly has pointed to teachers as the key to improving student achievement,” says Dennis Smith, president emeritus, University of Nebraska and a co-chair of the BHEF Initiative. “To create a highly qualified teaching force, institutions of higher education must raise the preparation of mathematics and science teachers to a central role in the mission of their institutions.”

The full report, “A Commitment to America’s Future,” can be downloaded from <www.bhef.com/>. 



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