Standards that vary from state to state mean that a student could do well in his or her own state, but could be ranked near the bottom of the achievement scale in another state–and education leaders are realizing that identifying and fixing this achievement gap is a step toward boosting the nation’s global competitiveness, Eberle said.

The nation’s ability to grow economically, and the ability of U.S. workers to succeed in a global economy, depend on high-quality math and science instruction, the Carnegie report says–making STEM skills more essential than ever.

All young Americans should be “STEM-capable,” no matter where they live, what educational path they pursue, or in which field they choose to work, the report declares.

“Over the coming decades, today’s young people will depend on the skills and knowledge developed from learning math and science to analyze problems, imagine solutions, and bring productive new ideas into being,” the report says.

Yet “math and science education today falls far short of meeting students’ future needs or the needs of society. Recent rounds of school reform have paid far too little attention to math and science,” said Phillip A. Griffiths, chair of the commission and past director of the Institute for Advanced Study.

“Schools must inject rigorous and relevant math and science throughout the curriculum,” Griffiths said. “The goal of improving math and science should sound a call for change that will reverberate throughout our schools and increase student learning in all areas.”

To build broad public understanding and commitment toward excellence and equity in math and science learning, the report recommends mobilizing the nation through an extensive public-awareness campaign.

Colleges and universities can raise awareness about the need for stronger and more coherent math and science preparation, the report says, while businesses, hospitals, technology-based industries, and other local organizations should work with schools to convey how building strong math and science education programs can translate into real-world opportunities.

Math and science education also must be enhanced by improving teacher preparation and recruitment, the report says. It recommends that federal, state, and local education leaders experiment with scholarships and pay incentives to lure math and science teachers to high-need areas; enable museums, research institutions, and others to become teacher certifiers; and design innovative, targeted math and science preparation routes that encourage science and math majors to enter teaching, among other measures.

In addition, colleges should increase the number of science and math classes they require for graduation, and they should strengthen their connection with local school systems to improve teacher effectiveness, the report says.

Schools can be redesigned for better math and science achievement, the report maintains, by linking math and science to college and careers to cultivate high expectations for student achievement in those subject areas; turning around ineffective and poorly performing schools with the help of data management systems; and reaching out to businesses, government, and philanthropists to narrow the gap between research and practice in improving science and math instruction.

Links:

“The Opportunity Equation: Transforming Mathematics and Science Education for Citizenship and the Global Economy”

National Science Teachers Association

Education Sector