Across the United States, high school science academies are a growing trend. Special academic programs for science technology, engineering, and math are aimed at training high school students to be future workers in high tech positions.
In northern New Jersey, established academies currently exist in several districts, and more are opening this year, along with high tech learning centers in private schools.
The specialized academies are often promoted as a means of raising the abilities of American students, and meeting the workplace demands in the tech sector, but critics believe the programs are uneven in quality. Resources can also be unevenly available, and its best to look at how the well established academies have succeeded.
Growing demand for the small school and programs that are intended to improve the global competitiveness and abilities of students and encourage career pursuits in the STEM fields. The demand often comes from students whose interest in computers and technology are growing and from families that believe the courses are a path to success. Business leaders also want to keep Americans competitive with the skills needed for the 21st century global economy.
But critics say the academies alone don’t go far enough unless they have the right resources and teaching talent. Some vary in quality or lack proper facilities, including well-equipped science labs.
“I have visited the Bergen Academies and other high schools in the state, and there are significant differences in terms of the facilities available and the overall environment the students have to work in,” said Robert S. Prezant, dean of the College of Science and Mathematics at Montclair State University.
While some students have more advantages, Prezant said success also relies on factors life home life and community support.
“I think it is always going to reflect on quality of programs and the questions that the children are being asked at home,” he said.