Facebook LinkedIn Twitter YouTube

Current State of STEM Education, Training and Workforce Development in Orange County, California and the Nation


National Level

Despite the nation’s record of achievement in the STEM fields, the United States now lags behind other nations in STEM education. Additionally, there is an achievement gap among some groups in STEM; African American, Hispanics, Native Americans and women are significantly underrepresented in many STEM fields. Research suggests that at the national level, the issue is not simply the lack of proficiency among students in the United States, but that it is also a lack of interested in STEM fields among many students. Some findings include:

  • In OECD's Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) 2009 rankings of international secondary education performance, the United States ranked 32nd (slightly below the international average) in Mathematics and 23rd (at about the international average) in Science. (Organization for Economic Cooperation & Development)
    • According to the 2009 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), U.S. 15-year-olds had an average score of 487 on the mathematics literacy scale, which was lower than the OECD average score of 496. Among the 33 other OECD countries, 17 countries had higher average scores than the United States, 5 had lower average scores, and 11 had average scores not measurably different from the U.S. average.
    • On the 2009 PISA science literacy scale, the average score of U.S. students (502) was not measurably different from the OECD average (501). Among the 33 other OECD countries, 12 had higher average scores than the United States, 9 had lower average scores, and 12 had average scores that were not measurably different.
  • A World Economic Forum Executive Opinion Survey in 2008 and 2009 ranked the quality of Math and Science education in the United States in 48th place. (World Economic Forum)
  • According to the ACT College Readiness report, about 71% of all ACT-tested 2010 high school graduates met at least one of the four College Readiness Benchmarks in English, Mathematics, Reading, or Science. (American College Testing - ACT)

California

California is projecting a growth in STEM careers, however data suggests that the supply of graduates in these fields is shrinking. In order to compete in the global marketplace, California’s STEM workforce will need to be competent and creative. California’s STEM Network is working towards preparing students for college and careers in the STEM fields. Some findings include:

  • In 2009, 30% of 4th grade public school students in California compared to 38% 4th grade public school students nationally performed at or above the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) proficient level in Mathematics. The performance represents a significant increase from 15% in 2000. (National Assessment of Education Progress)
  • 17% of California 4th grade public school students performed at or above the NAEP proficient level in Science in 2009. The performance represents an increase from 13% in 2000 but, in general, California 4th grade students are still performing behind the national average (27%). (National Assessment of Education Progress)
  • 23% of California 8th grade public school students performed at or above the NAEP proficient level in Mathematics in 2009. The performance represents an increase from 17% in 2000 but, in general, California 8th grade students are still performing behind the national average (33%). (National Assessment of Education Progress)
  • In 2009, 18% of 8th grade public school students in California performed at or above the NAEP proficient level in Science. The performance represents a small increase from 14% in 2000 but, in general, California 4th grade students are still performing behind the national average (27%). (National Assessment of Education Progress)
  • According to the National Science Foundation (NSF), California is in the top quartile (30.8%) for the percentage of student who took an Advanced Placement (AP) exam, compared to the national percentage of 25.0% (2008). (National Science Foundation)
  • California is in the third quartile for the number of National and Engineering Bachelor’s degrees conferred per 1,000 individuals ages 18 to 24 (2007). 6.9 out of every 1,000 Californians aged 18 to 24 received Bachelor’s degrees in the National Sciences and Engineering, compared to the national rate of 8.1. (National Science Foundation)
  • In 2008, California’s workforce consisted of 1.3% of engineers, 0.5% life/physical scientists and 2.1% computer specialists. Nationally, the workforce consisted of 1.1% of engineers, 0.4% life/physical scientists and 2.1% computer specialists. (National Science Foundation)
  • California ranked 4th on the 2010 State and Technology Science Index, performing well in risk capital and entrepreneurial infrastructure, and research and development inputs. However, at 13th in human capital capacity, it ranked far below the top three states. (2010 State and Technology Science Index)

For more information:


Orange County

In 2010, Orange County 2nd-10th grade students outperformed their statewide peers on the California Standards Test in mathematics and science, however roughly 18% of undergraduate degrees granted by Orange County universities in 2009 were tech related. Orange County students will need to be college and career ready in STEM fields to compete in the global marketplace. Some findings include:

  • In 2010, 68% of 2nd grade students scored proficient or above on the Mathematics California Standards Tests (CST) compared to 62% statewide. Fifty-seven percent of 7th grade students scored proficient or above on the Mathematics California Standards Tests (CST) compared to 49% statewide.
  • Orange County 5th, 8th and 10th grade students had a higher percentage of proficient and above performance on each of the Science CST’s than their peers statewide.
  • Orange County ranks 148th out of 200 large metro areas compared in terms of high-tech GDP growth from 2004-2009. (Orange County 2011 Community Indicators)
  • In 2009, there were 2,231 patents granted to county inventors – up from 2,205 in 2008 and 2,052 in 2007. (Orange County 2011 Community Indicators)
  • In 2009, roughly 18% of total undergraduate degrees granted by Orange County universities were tech related. In addition, Orange County universities awarded 892 tech-related graduate degrees in 2009. (Orange County 2011 Community Indicators)
  • Of the top five fastest growing occupation projected for Orange County by 2018, three represent STEM fields (biomedical engineers, medical scientists, and network systems and data communication analysts). (State of California, Employment Development Department)

For more information: