The United States has developed as a global leader, in large part, through the genius and hard work of its scientists, engineers, and innovators.
Yet today, few American students pursue expertise in STEM fields—and we have an inadequate pipeline of teachers skilled in those subjects. All young people should be prepared to think deeply and to think well so that they have the chance to become the innovators, educators, researchers, and leaders who can solve the most pressing challenges facing our nation and our world, both today and tomorrow. For example, we know that only 81 percent of Asian-American high school students and 71 percent of white high school students attend high schools where the full range of math and science courses are offered (Algebra I, geometry, Algebra II, calculus, biology, chemistry, and physics). Specifically, the President has called on the nation to develop, recruit, and retain 100,000 excellent STEM teachers over the next 10 years. These improvements in STEM education will happen only if Hispanics, African-Americans, and other underrepresented groups in the STEM fields—including women, people with disabilities, and first-generation Americans—robustly engage and are supported in learning and teaching in these areas. At the Department of Education, we share the President’s commitment to supporting and improving STEM education. The Department’s Race to the Top-District program supports educators in providing students with more personalized learning—in which the pace of and approach to instruction are uniquely tailored to meet students’ individual needs and interests—often supported by innovative technologies.


And in higher education, the Hispanic-Serving Institutions-STEM program is helping to increase the number of Hispanic students attaining degrees in STEM subjects.
Our mission is to promote student achievement and preparation for global competitiveness by fostering educational excellence and ensuring equal access. In a world that’s becoming increasingly complex, where success is driven not only by what you know, but by what you can do with what you know, it’s more important than ever for our youth to be equipped with the knowledge and skills to solve tough problems, gather and evaluate evidence, and make sense of information. The access to these courses for American Indian, Native-Alaskan, black, and Hispanic high school students are significantly worse. The United States is falling behind internationally, ranking 29th in math and 22nd in science among industrialized nations.
He also has asked colleges and universities to graduate an additional 1 million students with STEM majors. Ensuring that all students have access to high-quality learning opportunities in STEM subjects is a priority, demonstrated by the fact that dozens of federal programs have made teaching and learning in science, technology, engineering, and math a critical component of competitiveness for grant funding. STEM teachers across the country also are receiving resources, support, training, and development through programs like Investing in Innovation (i3), the Teacher Incentive Fund, the Math and Science Partnerships program, Teachers for a Competitive Tomorrow, and the Teacher Quality Partnerships program.


This initiative has made a commitment to Native-American students, providing about 350 young people at 11 sites across six states with out-of-school STEM courses focused on science and the environment. These are the types of skills that students learn by studying science, technology, engineering, and math—subjects collectively known as STEM.
Children’s race, zip code, or socioeconomic status should never determine their STEM fluency.
What’s more, a recent survey revealed that only 29 percent of Americans rated this country’s K-12 education in STEM subjects as above average or the best in the world. Just this year, for the very first time, the Department announced that its Ready-to-Learn Television grant competition would include a priority to promote the development of television and digital media focused on science. We must give all children the opportunity to be college-ready and to thrive in a modern STEM economy.



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