Research offers seven actionable recommendations to advance educational equity and excellence in science, technology, engineering and math
CRANFORD, NJ — Today JerseyCAN: The New Jersey Campaign for Achievement Now released Preparing the Children of Today for the Jobs of Tomorrow: A Window into STEM Education in New Jersey. This comprehensive new report highlights successful science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programs across the Garden State and provides recommendations on how to ensure more students can benefit from these innovations.
“Historically, New Jersey has been on the forefront of innovation dating all the way back to Thomas Edison and the light bulb,” said JerseyCAN board co-chair Governor Tom Kean. “We have a rich history in the world of STEM, and we need to re-establish our state as a leader in this space. With this report, we learned about many inspiring leaders and STEM innovations across New Jersey. Our challenge now is to ensure that all students, particularly young women and low-income students, can access these STEM opportunities.”
JerseyCAN met with over 70 individuals and organizations leading pioneering work in STEM education, including superintendents, principals, teachers, and students from around the state. The report explores unique programs and curriculums, several of which are aimed at broadening access to STEM opportunities to students who have traditionally been underrepresented in the STEM field. JerseyCAN highlights the critical need for expanding STEM opportunities to benefit both New Jersey students and the broader statewide economy:
- New Jersey ranks 24th in the nation on NAEP’s eighth-grade science exam, with only 14 percent of black students and 17 percent of Hispanic students scoring at or above proficient.
- In New Jersey, there are 1.4 open jobs in STEM for every unemployed person, and STEM-related jobs are expected to grow at almost twice that of other jobs in the market.
- The U.S. Department of Labor estimates that 65 percent of today’s grade-school students will end up in jobs that do not yet exist.
“We want to tap into the talents and interests of all students to prepare them for the jobs of tomorrow. Expanding access to high-quality STEM learning not only benefits students individually, but contributes to the overall health of our state’s economy,” added JerseyCAN Executive Director Janellen Duffy.
Featuring stories and classroom strategies from teachers and administrators at Freehold Township School District, Newark’s Eastside High School, the Liberty Science Center and more, this report underscores when attention is given to STEM education, New Jersey can truly prepare its students for a 21st-century job market. There are many schools, districts and communities across the state using evidence-based solutions to prepare kids for jobs of tomorrow, including personalized and blended learning, out-of-school time STEM opportunities, STEM teacher preparation programs and offerings at STEM-rich institutions. The New Jersey Department of Education has also led important systems level change efforts—including adoption of the Next Generation Science Standards and the creation of a Future Ready Schools certification program—to encourage districts and schools to prioritize STEM education.
To help scale these efforts, the report features recommendations that include:
- Creation of a gubernatorial-sponsored task force to develop a comprehensive plan for strengthening K–12 STEM education in New Jersey.
- Identifying new approaches to addressing the shortage of STEM teachers across the state.
- Expanding access to computer science.
- Expanding access to career and vocational technical training and work-based learning opportunities in STEM fields.
- Further leveraging personalized/blended learning into more classrooms.
- Establishing an Innovation Fund to leverage private and public resources to support pioneers leading evidenced-based innovations.
- Implementing targeted STEM strategies for women and underrepresented minorities.