America has been steadily sliding in global education rankings for decades. In particular, our students are increasingly unable to compete globally in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) fields. According to the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP), in 2010 only 26 percent of high school seniors in the U.S. scored at or above proficient level in math. Another 36 percent were failing. Only 3 percent scored at an advanced level in math, and only 1 percent scored at an advanced level in science.
Students in K-12 across the U.S. struggle with STEM subjects, often because the subjects are poorly presented or badly taught. When students reach college, they choose to pursue non-STEM degrees, and too many struggle to find jobs upon graduation. Meanwhile, U.S. employers are having an increasingly hard time filling STEM jobs. Economic projections for the next decade show we will need approximately 1 million more professionals in STEM fields than our education system will produce. If we want to maintain our historical pre-eminence in science and technology, we must increase the number of students graduating with STEM degrees by 34 percent each year.
One Nation Under Taught offers a clear solution, providing a blueprint for helping students fall in love with STEM subjects, and giving them the tools they need to succeed and go on for further study in these fields. The book challenges our whole way of thinking about education, and encourages educators and policy-makers at all levels to work together to make our schools places that promote curiosity and inspire a love of learning. If we do not change course, we will set our students and our country on the path to a lifetime of poverty. But if we can implement the reforms Dr. Bertram suggests, we can achieve long-lasting prosperity for our children and our nation as a whole.