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Policy Issues

Addressing the STEM Challenge by Expanding Specialty Math and Science High Schools

By Robert D. Atkinson
March 20, 2007

If America is to succeed in the innovation-powered global economy, boosting math and science skills will be critical. This is why a wide array of task forces and organizations has recently raised the clarion call for more and better scientists and engineers. While the policy proposals offered are wide ranging, one key policy innovation has surprisingly been largely ignored: the role of specialty math and science high schools. Today, there are well over 100 of these high schools throughout the nation. And evidence shows that these schools are a powerful tool for producing high school graduates with a deep knowledge and strong passion for science and math that translates into much higher rates of college attendance and graduation in scientific

As a result, any solution to the scientist, technician, engineer, and mathematician (STEM) shortage must include a national commitment to expand the number of specialty math and science high schools. To do this, Congress should allocate $180 million a year for five years to the National Science Foundation to be matched by states and local school districts and industry with the goal of tripling enrollment in math and science high schools to around 140,000 by 2012.

Read the full text of this report (PDF)