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Six-year STEM Graduation Rates Low

Six-year STEM Graduation Rates Low

by NSC Blog | Nov 2, 2015 | High School Benchmarking, K-12, Research Reports, Research Services |

50 Percent of STEM Degrees Earned in Social Sciences and Psychology

As part of the National Student Clearinghouse’s commitment to this year’s White House Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics (STEM) initiatives, we analyzed college completion rates in the STEM fields for the high school graduating class of 2008, in our third annual The High School Benchmarks Report: National College Progression Rates.

“…the effectiveness of STEM education in the country will determine whether we are able to find solutions to many challenges, such as energy and health, and will ensure a better understanding of ourselves, our planet, and the universe.”

President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology

It is projected that the job growth in STEM occupations will be much higher than in non-STEM occupations and on average, they will have higher earnings (U.S. Department of Commerce, 2011). However, six-year completion rates in the STEM fields were relatively low among high school graduates (Figure 1).

Figure 1: College Completion Rates Six Years after High School Graduation, STEM Field of Study, Class of 2008

2015 High School Benchmarks Report - STEM Figure 1
* Value not shown due to low coverage.

The highest percentages of high school graduates who had a degree in a STEM field were from higher income, low minority urban and suburban schools (17 and 16 percent, respectively). In contrast, six percent of graduates from low income, high minority, and urban schools had a STEM-related degree, six years after high school graduation.

Differences were even more pronounced when we analyzed STEM degrees by discipline (Figure 2). Overall, in seven out of the 12 public high school categories we created, at least half of all STEM degrees earned were in social sciences and psychology.

Figure 2: College Completion Rates Six Years after High School Graduation, STEM Field of Study by Discipline, Class of 2008

2015 High School Benchmarks Report - STEM Figure 2
* Value not shown due to low coverage.

A recent report by the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology emphasized the importance of STEM education as the determinant of success for the United States to remain as a leader among nations (PCAST, 2010). The report points out that the effectiveness of STEM education in the country will determine whether we are able to find solutions to many challenges, such as energy and health, and will ensure a better “understanding of ourselves, our planet, and the universe.”

The High School Benchmarks Report covers public and private high schools from all 50 states and from the majority of the 100 largest districts in the U.S., with nearly 4 million high school graduates or 24 to 30 percent of all public high school graduates for each year included in the report.

 

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