What Is The Problem?


Lower STEM Scores

In a new Pew Research Center report, only 29% of Americans rated their country’s K-12 education in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (known as STEM) as above average or the best in the world. Scientists were even more critical: A companion survey of members of the American Association for the Advancement of Science found that just 16% called U.S. K-12 STEM education the best or above average; 46%, in contrast, said K-12 STEM in the U.S. was below average.

Standardized test results appear to largely bear out those perceptions. While U.S. students are scoring higher on national math assessments than they did two decades ago (data from science tests are sketchier), they still rank around the middle of the pack in international comparisons, and behind many other advanced industrial nations.

Source: National Science Foundation STEM Education Resource website

States Ranked Best to Worst on Science Education

A new ranking of how well the United States' schools are preparing students for science and engineering careers shows that although there's a small number of high performers, most states are doing a poor job of educating students in these subjects.

According to the ranking of schools teaching kindergarten through 12th grade, Massachusetts leads the pack with a score of 4.82 on a scale of 1 to 5, while Mississippi trails behind as "worst in the United States" with a 1.11 score. Twenty-one states in total, including California, earned what the ranking classified as "below average" or "far below average" scores, and only 10 states earned scores above the national average of 2.82.

Source: Statistical Research Center | The American Institute of Physics

States Ranked Best to Worst on Science Education

STEM Scores & Childhood Obesity

Physical inactivity is a serious concern among all children. Additionally, many schools, especially ones in poorer communities, have reported unsatisfactory academic test scores in subjects such as science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). States with the highest prevalence of child obesity also have the worst elementary school STEM scores in a national ranking. In addition, several large-scale studies have shown a significant negative correlation between Body Mass Index (BMI) and academic performance in children. Evidence from multiple studies and research reviews suggests that physical activity improves many academic outcomes, including overall academic success, cognitive performance, and reading and math skills, and also facilitates positive behaviors such as increased time on-task in the classroom and improved levels of concentration. Recent publications supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and by the Institute of Medicine have conclusively demonstrated that physical activity is essential for promoting academic achievement. In fact, the integration of physical activity into academic lessons has been recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as a strategy to promote regular physical activity and support academic success. Therefore, afterschool organizations should aim to integrate physical activity and academic components into their programs to promote both the physical and educational well being of the child.

Childhood Obesity Rates