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U.S. Math, Science Skills Exceed Broad Perception

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Into the Eye of the Storm: Assessing the Evidence on Science and Engineering Education, Quality, and Workforce Demand

Contrary to the opinions being voiced by many business and political leaders today, U.S. schools are producing an ample supply of students with the skills necessary to work in science and engineering fields, a new paper suggests.

Those students score relatively well on international tests of mathematics and science skills, according to the paper, released Oct. 29 by the Urban Institute, a Washington-based research organization. And the math and science skills of students are, in fact, equal to and in some cases better than those of students two decades ago, depending on the measurement, it concludes. This is despite broad consternation among public officials and corporate executives about supposed U.S. weaknesses in those subjects.

Authors B. Lindsay Lowell of Georgetown University and Hal Salzman of the Urban Institute say that American students’ high school diploma completion has increased greatly over time, as has their overall exposure to math and science coursework. A relatively large number of students graduate from high school and start college in science and engineering fields, they say.

But graduate schools, and science and engineering companies, are ineffective in attracting undergraduates to careers in those fields and encouraging them to remain, the authors say.

Vol. 27, Issue 11, Page 5

Published in Print: November 7, 2007, as U.S. Math, Science Skills Exceed Broad Perception

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