The U.S. Department of Education announced today that it has not only fulfilled but surpassed President Trump’s directive to invest $200 million in high-quality science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), including computer science, education. In total, the Department obligated $279 million in STEM discretionary grant funds in Fiscal Year 2018.
“It’s important that all students have access to a high-quality STEM education,” U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos said. “These discretionary grant programs and this Administration’s increased focus on STEM will help ensure our nation’s students are exposed to STEM early in their lifelong education journeys and will have the tools needed for success in the 21st century economy.”
The Department’s efforts to support STEM education, through the Secretary’s STEM discretionary grant priority, include funding for:
While these investments mark a significant step toward advancing STEM education in the United States, there is still more work to be done. According to the Department’s newly released data story on STEM, 80 percent of all eighth-graders attend a school that offers Algebra 1, but only 24 percent of these students are actually enrolled in the course. As many have acknowledged, this “leak” in the STEM pipeline can have long-term effects on students’ education, since Algebra 1 is considered the gatekeeper course to advanced math and science courses.
According to the primary data source, the 2015-16 Civil Rights Data Collection , students’ access to algebra in eighth grade is inconsistent across the country and access to STEM education can be impacted by a number of factors, such as the location of the school or the type of school a student attends. Students enrolled in magnet or traditional public schools were more likely to have access to Algebra 1 than at other types of schools. Similarly students attending suburban schools were more likely to have access than students in other areas.
Enrollment is just as important as access, but data show not all students with access were enrolled at the same rate. Asian students were more likely to be enrolled in Algebra 1 in eighth grade—34 percent—compared with only 12 percent of eighth grade black students. In addition, a slightly higher percentage of female students (25 percent) compared with male students (22 percent) were enrolled in Algebra 1 in eighth grade.
This Administration knows that a strong STEM education is a pathway to successful careers, and that’s why it is committed to ensuring equal access to a strong STEM education for all students.