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STEM the Tide

Reforming Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math Education in America

David E. Drew

Publication Year: 2011

One study after another shows American students ranking behind their international counterparts in the STEM fields—science, technology, engineering, and math. Businesspeople such as Bill Gates warn that this alarming situation puts the United States at a serious disadvantage in the high-tech global marketplace of the twenty-first century, and President Obama places improvement in these areas at the center of his educational reform. What can be done to reverse this poor performance and to unleash America’s wasted talent? David E. Drew has good news—and the tools America needs to keep competitive. Drawing on both academic literature and his own rich experience, Drew identifies proven strategies for reforming America’s schools, colleges, and universities, and his comprehensive review of STEM education in the United States offers a positive blueprint for the future. These research-based strategies include creative and successful methods for building strong programs in science and mathematics education and show how the achievement gap between majority and minority students can be closed. A crucial measure, he argues, is recruiting, educating, supporting, and respecting America’s teachers. To secure a competitive advantage both in the knowledge economy and in economic development more broadly, America needs a highly skilled, college-educated workforce and cutting-edge university research. Drew makes the case that reforming science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education to meet these demands, with an emphasis on reaching historically underserved students, is essential to the long-term prosperity of the United States. Accessible, engaging, and hard hitting, STEM the Tide is a clarion call to policymakers, administrators, educators, and everyone else concerned about students’ participation in the STEM fields and America’s competitive global position.

Published by: The Johns Hopkins University Press


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p. vii

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pp. 9-11

One of the distinguishing features of higher education in the United States is the frequency with which college students change their major fields of study. While undergraduates in most other countries of the world pretty much stick with their initial courses of study as they prepare for particular types of professions or careers, many American college students earn their degrees in a field ...

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pp. xiii-xiv

As a first-year graduate student, I assisted in an evaluation of a mathematics reform program. In one way or another, I have been focused on STEM education ever since then. In this book I draw together much of what I have learned. More to the point, above and beyond my own modest contributions to this literature, I have scoured journals, books, reports, magazines, and newspapers to ...

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pp. 1-17

Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education is vital preparation for today’s high-tech information economy. Unfortunately, American students lag their counterparts in most other countries in achievement. This book presents a positive blueprint for reforming STEM education in our schools, colleges, and universities. The United States (and, indeed, much of the world) is reeling from a severe ...

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CHAPTER 1: America’s Place in the World

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pp. 18-29

The National Commission on Excellence in Education declared an emergency in American education a quarter century ago. Has the mediocrity been replaced by excellence? The short answer is no. In 2007, in another National Commission report, Intel Corporation spokesman Howard High soberly predicted even more outsourcing, seeking talent overseas: “We go where the smart people are ...

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CHAPTER 2: The Achievement Gap

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pp. 30-53

Why are we not competitive in STEM education? In preparing a previous book, Aptitude Revisited: Rethinking Math and Science Education for America’s Next Century, I concluded that there was one fundamental flaw in our system. Other factors, especially poverty, played a role, but there was, and still is, one basic problem: Far too many students are blocked from opportunities to master STEM because ...

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CHAPTER 3: Effective Leadership, Careful Evaluation

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pp. 54-76

As discussed in chapter 1, in the current high-tech global economy STEM education is of vital importance. Yet international assessments of math and science achievement have consistently placed American students below their counterparts from most other nations. Furthermore, the science career ladder for women in the United States has hit a glass ceiling, and a persistent achievement ...

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CHAPTER 4: Top-Notch Teachers

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pp. 77-104

No matter how many task forces are convened, how many curriculum projects are funded, or how many high-stakes tests are given, successful education ultimately comes down to the interaction and communication between a teacher and his students. Therefore, the surest way to improve STEM education in America is to improve teaching. We need to ...

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CHAPTER 5: Mentors and High Expectations

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pp. 105-119

Once a student decides to attend college, we want him or her to succeed, to achieve, and to graduate. The attrition rate in America’s colleges is a national disgrace. The loss of talent represented by the attrition of STEM majors is significant and disturbing. Far too many STEM students either transfer out of the sciences or drop out of college. This problem is more severe for women, students ...

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CHAPTER 6: Closing the Achievement Gap

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pp. 120-137

In this chapter, I review how the powerful combination of committed mentors and high expectations has closed the achievement gap at a variety of institutions. We will examine data on the academic progress of disadvantaged students and study the strategies that contributed to their success. Despite the impressive student achievements, a reader of the original Treisman Berkeley report might have asked whether these workshops would be effective ...

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CHAPTER 7: College Access and the STEM Pipeline: The Case of Nevada

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pp. 138-160

As students make their way through school, there are points when they may become less likely to study math and science—points where they may be lost forever from the STEM pipeline. One critical juncture is the transition from high school to college. We must make mathematics and science available and attractive to virtually every student in middle and high schools. If skilled teachers ...

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CHAPTER 8: The Value of a College Education in the Global Economy

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pp. 161-176

In the introduction I mentioned the competition between contestants with “book smarts” versus those with “street smarts” on Donald Trump’s blockbuster television program The Apprentice. This contest pitted a team of college graduates against a team of high school graduates. The show prompted me to write an opinion piece in which I questioned what people can learn from an admittedly ...

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CHAPTER 9: Supporting University Research

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pp. 177-194

One of America’s great advantages in the global economy is our higher education system. In sharp contrast to the reputation of its elementary and secondary schools, U.S. colleges and universities are the envy of the world. To this day, American scientists and engineers set the pace for innovation. American STEM students have the valuable opportunity to learn from the world’s leading researchers ...

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pp. 195-207

Ultimately, this is a book about power in U.S. society. Better educational opportunities—especially in the STEM fields—give students more power over their own lives. The in e qual ity in our economy is staggering. Throughout history, people with power have controlled the means for the weak and disenfranchised to improve their positions. In the emerging global economy, upward social mobility ...

Appendix. International Assessments of STEM Achievement in the Twentieth Century

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pp. 209-218


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pp. 219-234


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pp. 235-242

E-ISBN-13: 9781421403410
E-ISBN-10: 1421403412
Print-ISBN-13: 9781421400945
Print-ISBN-10: 1421400944

Page Count: 264
Illustrations: 1 line drawing
Publication Year: 2011

OCLC Number: 792928999
MUSE Marc Record: Download for STEM the Tide

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Subject Headings

  • Mathematics -- Study and teaching -- Government policy -- United States.
  • Science and state -- United States.
  • Science -- Study and teaching -- Government policy -- United States.
  • Technology and state -- United States.
  • Technology -- Study and teaching -- Government policy -- United States.
  • Engineering -- Study and teaching -- Government policy -- United States.
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