On March 20, 2007, the Council on Postsecondary Education's Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Task Force released its final report containing eight recommendations to accelerate Kentucky's performance in STEM disciplines. The report, Kentucky's STEM Imperative: Competing in the Global Economy,
provides a bold and comprehensive plan to boost STEM performance in government, business, P-12 and postsecondary education.
"While Kentucky has several exemplary programs and initiatives within the STEM disciplines, bold and timely action must be taken to position Kentucky to succeed in the global economy of the 21st century."
- Tom Layzell
President, Council on
Led by Dr. Lee Todd, president of the University of Kentucky, the 110 members of the task force will continue to meet and develop implementation action plans to be released September 2007.
"Kentucky has the opportunity to be the state that others follow to remedy the STEM crisis," said Todd. "Collaborative and coordinated strategies to resolve the STEM crisis must engage all sectors and all citizens."
As stated in the report, the need to boost performance in STEM fields is a crisis at both the national and state level. Thirty years ago, the United States ranked third worldwide in the number of science graduates; we now rank 17th. Additionally, Asian universities produce eight times more engineering bachelor's degrees than the U.S.
Kentucky is also seeing leakage in the educational pipeline for a STEM educated workforce. Kentucky is 49th in the nation in the number of bachelor's degrees conferred in science and engineering (2003) and 48th in science and engineering degrees as share of degrees conferred. Additionally, Kentucky is ranked 47th in the number of scientists and engineers; 45th in the number of patents issued; and 42nd in the number of high-tech jobs.
"While Kentucky has several exemplary programs and initiatives within the STEM disciplines, bold and timely action must be taken to position Kentucky to succeed in the global economy of the 21st century," said Tom Layzell, council president.
The council's creation of the STEM Task Force in November 2006 emerged from a recommendation of the council's Research, Economic Development and Commercialization Policy Group chaired by John R. Hall, former chairman and CEO of Ashland, Inc.
"STEM disciplines hold the key to our future economic prosperity," stated Hall. "These recommendations are a first step toward building a workforce prepared for the complex challenges ahead."
The eight recommendations of the STEM Task Force are as follows:
- Energize and fund a statewide public awareness campaign to help Kentuckians understand the critical importance of STEM to their own economic competitiveness and to that of the commonwealth.
- Create incentives and a supportive environment for students, teachers and institutions that pursue, succeed and excel in STEM disciplines throughout the P-20 pipeline.
- Implement international best practices in professional development programs for P-16 STEM teachers to increase the intensity, duration and rigor of professional development.
- Improve teacher preparation programs and encourage people with undergraduate and graduate STEM degrees to enter the teaching profession.
- Revolutionize how STEM subjects are taught, learned and assessed and implement a statewide research-based STEM curriculum that is aligned with global workforce and academic standards.
- Engage business, industry and civic leaders to improve STEM education and skills in the commonwealth and create incentives for Kentucky businesses that employ and invest in STEM educated students.
- Develop an ongoing, coordinated, statewide STEM initiative that maximizes the impact of resources among state agencies, schools, colleges, universities and businesses and is focused on developing and attracting STEM-related jobs to Kentucky.
- Target energy sustainability problems and opportunities in Kentucky and the nation as a primary objective of statewide STEM enhancements.
To view the full report, visit the council Web site at http://cpe.ky.gov/news/reports/cpe_reports/stem.htm.
Kentucky's postsecondary and adult education system is improving the economic vitality of the commonwealth and the lives of Kentuckians. By raising educational attainment to the national average by 2020, Kentucky will attract higher wage and knowledge-based business and industry and the overall quality of life for Kentuckians will improve with higher incomes and levels of employment, better health, less obesity, more volunteerism and lower crime and public assistance rates.