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On the Road to Reform: K-12 Science Education in the United States


"America has grown accustomed to being a leader in technological innovation, thanks in large part to its human capital (see, e.g., Goldin and Katz 2008). Historically, American workers have been among the best educated and most skilled in the world, and the scientists and engineers employed by US businesses and universities (whether they were born here or abroad) have been at the forefront in scientific discovery.

But this advantage cannot be taken for granted. Not for the first time, concerns are being raised about whether the US educational system is continuing this tradition. At the height of the Cold War, fears aroused in the wake of the Soviet Union's Sputnik launch inspired a massive investment of public resources in improving the training of US scientists and engineers. In today's more multipolar world, American institutions and workers are in fierce competition with the previously untapped talents of other nations. Confronted with these challenges, the question is whether the American educational system is preparing US students in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields well enough to preserve the US advantage over other countries that are trying to catch up."