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STEM Preparation, Career Link Overstated

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To the Editor:

A recent post in the College Bound blog on edweek.org reported: "High school students are being told to take more rigorous math and science courses if they want to be prepared for college and get lucrative jobs in STEM careers" ("High School Students Taking More Math and Science Courses," May 23, 2013).

Will taking more rigorous math and science courses lead to lucrative jobs in science, technology, engineering, and math, or STEM, careers? Maybe not. Published data suggest that American students are taking more math and science than the economy needs.

According to the blog post, in 2009, nearly 16 percent of high school seniors had taken calculus, but according to a 2010 study completed by Michael Handel of Northeastern University, only 5 percent of new jobs require calculus. Rutgers University professor Hal Salzman concluded in 2007 that there are approximately three qualified graduates annually for each science or technical opening. Recent studies have also shown the United States is producing more Ph.D.s in science than the market can absorb.

Why are we promoting STEM preparation so vigorously?

Stephen Krashen
Professor Emeritus
Rossier School of Education
University of Southern California
Los Angeles, Calif.

Vol. 32, Issue 35, Page 41

Published in Print: June 12, 2013, as STEM Preparation, Career Link Overstated
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