Annual STEM Education Report Cards
In 2013, the Legislature passed Engrossed Second Substitute House Bill 1872 (E2SHB 1872), calling for the creation of the Governor’s STEM Education Innovation Alliance (the “Governor’s STEM Alliance”). Its members were to represent a broad range of business, labor, nonprofit, and educational organizations, with the role of advising the Governor on strategic planning and the formation of effective partnerships in support of the STEM education initiatives.
In addition, the STEM Alliance was charged with submitting an annual STEM Education Report Card to the Legislature in order to report on STEM economic and workforce trends, measure progress in improving STEM education in Washington, and communicate strategic priorities.
WASHINGTON’S ADVANTAGE: A world-class innovative economy
Nationally, Washington ranks:
- #1 for business with the nation’s fastest growing economy. (CNBC)
- #2 in concentration of STEM jobs and #3 in STEM job growth. (U.S. Chamber of Commerce)
- #3 in tech innovation and #5 in percentage of workforce in tech industries. (CompTIA)
THE CHALLENGE: Keeping pace with rising STEM workforce demand
Employers in Washington’s technology sector have a critical need for STEM- educated workers. But STEM training and degree production in Washington is not keeping pace with demand.
- Low in the production of computer science, engineering and health degrees relative to job openings in those fields.
- #46 in the nation and last among high-tech- intensive states in the proportion of high school graduates who go directly to college. (NCHEMS)
- #19 in higher education attainment. (U.S. Chamber of Commerce)
Recent regional focus groups and surveys of employers in STEM industries and others have revealed common workforce concerns across the state:
- Many graduates lack key soft skills and communication proficiencies.
- Both K–12 and postsecondary students need more opportunities for work-based learning to gain more direct knowledge and experience with careers and work environments in STEM industries.
KEY STEM PROGRESS INDICATORS
★ STEM awareness
In 2017, approximately 62% of Washington voters had heard of STEM, almost double the portion familiar with the term in 2013 (32%). (Interactive Dashboard)
★ Interest in STEM studies among high school students
In 2017, approximately 31% of Washington SAT-takers indicated an intention to pursue a degree in a STEM major, an increase from 25% in 2010. (Interactive Dashboard)
★ Kindergarten readiness in math
About 66% of incoming kindergarteners demonstrated “kindergarten readiness” in math among students assessed by WaKIDS, 2016–17. (Interactive Dashboard)
★ Smarter Balanced Assessment math scores, 2016–17:
At the 3rd grade level, more than one-half (59%) of students met the math standard; At the 5th grade level, 49% met the math standard; At the 8th grade level, 48% met the math standard. (Interactive Dashboard)
★ Student readiness for college-level studies in STEM subjects, Advanced Placement (AP) Computer Science:
The number of high schools offering AP Computer Science in Washington has grown substantially from 14 schools in 2011 to 98 schools in 2017. Simultaneously, the number of students taking the AP Computer Science exam has grown from 1,048 students in 2014 to 1,900 students in 2017. Among those, 73% earned a score consistent with college credit, up from 66% in 2014. Yet, despite this progress, less than 15% of high schools offer AP computer science. (Interactive Dashboard is only currently available for AP Computer Science Exams)
★ Alignment of STEM education programs with workforce demand in key economic sectors
We have made progress in raising the number of Washington higher education graduates earning degrees in STEM fields, but the percentage is still too low to meet workforce needs.
- More than one-fourth (28%) of undergraduate degrees awarded at all Washington baccalaureate institutions in 2016 were in STEM subjects, up from 22% in 2012. (Interactive Dashboard)
- STEM degree and certificate completions at Washington institutions have shown steady increases in recent years (2012–2016): Associate degree and long-term certificate completions in STEM fields increased by 13%; Baccalaureate Degree completions in Computer and Information Sciences grew by 83%, in Engineering and Related Fields by 25%, and in Health by 30%. Graduate Degree completions in Computer and Information Sciences grew by 150%, in Engineering and Related Fields by 35%, and in Health by 15%.
However, many STEM programs remain highly selective and limited enrollment capacity remains a barrier in some fields, particularly in computer science. And rapidly growing workforce demand is still outpacing STEM degree production.
★ Widening gap between projected annual job openings and the number of graduates in Washington prepared to fill them.
Projections for the years 2020–2025 estimate that out of a total of about 9,125 annual job openings, there will be 5,883 more openings in Computer Science than there are graduates completing degree programs prepared to take them. Out of a total of about 2,589 annual Engineering job openings, there will be 429 more openings than there are graduates prepared to fill them. (Interactive Dashboard)
Underrepresented Populations in STEM
★ Gender imbalance in STEM achievement widens as students move through the pipeline.
- Among pre-K students, girls tend to do as well as boys in math, with about 66% demonstrating “kindergarten readiness” in the 2016–17 WaKIDS assessment. (Interactive Dashboard)
- As they move through the education pipeline, however, interest and achievement in STEM tends to fade for female students. In 2017, only 29% of students completing AP Computer Science were female. (Interactive Dashboard)
- Male students also complete STEM degrees in greater numbers than female students. In 2015, only 34% of students completing associate degrees or bachelor’s degrees in STEM were female and only 22% completed degrees in computer science.
★ Students from low-income families are disadvantaged at all stages.
- Among low-income pre-K students, only 50% demonstrated “kindergarten readiness” in math in 2016–17. (Interactive Dashboard)
- Among students completing AP Computer Science courses, only 12% were from low-income families in 2015–16.