BIO Releases Report Expressing Concern for U.S. Student Math and Science Literacy

BIO launches the first in a series of reports on STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) education, workforce preparedness strategies, and other innovative programs that that are critical to this nation&rsquo;s economic leadership.</p>

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Wednesday, February 2, 2011) - The Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) today launched the first in a series of reports on STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) education, workforce preparedness strategies, and other innovative programs that that are critical to this nation’s economic leadership.

The report, entitled Bioscience Education: Examples of Innovative Science Education Programs in the United States, cites key national educational shortcomings and highlights positive steps state governors and legislators, along with industry and local schools are taking to improve performance and develop the next-generation workforce.

The United States has fallen behind other nations in terms of education standards and performance scores. On average only 28 percent of high school students who took the ACT, a national standardized test required for college admission, reached a score indicating college readiness for biology. Not one state attained a score over 50 percent.

The United States is falling behind in terms of international education comparisons as well. In the most recent testing of science and math literacy for the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), the United States stood below the average for Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) member nations in both science and math literacy. U.S. 15-year-olds scored lower than 16 of the other 29 OECD nations on science literacy and lower than 23 of the other 29 OECD nations on math literacy

“The bioscience industry supports one of the most highly paid and skilled workforces in the world. Without an increase in children and young adults pursing the STEM disciplines, the U.S. bioscience industry will be forced to look abroad for competent workers,” said BIO President and CEO James Greenwood.  “This poses a very real threat to this country’s leadership as a technological pioneer.”

The warning signs are clear: While the United States still ranks among the top performers in the percentage of older adults (35 to 64) with an associate’s degree or higher, it has slipped to seventh in the educational attainment of younger adults aged 25 to 34. The percentage of younger adults in the United States with at least an associate’s degree falls well below that of Japan and Korea, and is marginally ahead of Spain, Ireland, and France.

“This is not to say that bioscience education is non-existent in the United States because there are many examples of programs that work,” said Greenwood. “However, there is an uneven record of incorporating the biosciences in state standards and ensuring well-qualified science and bioscience teachers.”

Several states have taken steps to improve science education and student achievement in their states. What works well in one state may not address specific challenges or issues in another state. While each state will have to assess its own education obstacles and capacities, the report identifies six key areas that states may want to consider when developing educational policy:

1. Bioscience Standards
2. Special State Schools and Programs in the Biosciences and STEM Education
3. Teacher Quality and Preparation
4. Experiential Learning and Career Awareness
5. Mobile Lab Programs
6. Support Organizations for Schools and the State


Upcoming BIO Events

Partnering for Global Health Forum 2011
June 27, 2011
Washington, DC

BIO International Convention
June 27-30, 2011
Washington, DC

2011 BIO Human Resources Conference
June 26-28, 2011
Washington, DC

The Business Forum at the BIO International Convention
June 28-30, 2011
Washington, DC

BIO India International Partnering Conference
September 21-22, 2011
Hyderabad, India

BIO China International Conference
October 12-13, 2011
Shanghai, China

About BIO

BIO represents more than 1,100 biotechnology companies, academic institutions, state biotechnology centers and related organizations across the United States and in more than 30 other nations. BIO members are involved in the research and development of innovative healthcare, agricultural, industrial and environmental biotechnology products. BIO also produces the BIO International Convention, the world’s largest gathering of the biotechnology industry, along with industry-leading investor and partnering meetings held around the world. BIO produces BIOtechNOW, an online portal and monthly newsletter chronicling “innovations transforming our world.” Subscribe to BIOtechNOW.

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