Schools are responding to the needs of 21st century learners by promoting STEM careers with difficult math and science courses. In high schools across the USA, courseloads for math and science are increasing.
The idea is to better prepare students for jobs in the STEM fields of science, technology, engineering and math. However, a new study shows that simply adding more classes isnt enough. Adding course requirements and complexity is becoming more common.
ACT, the company that administers the college readiness tests employed researchers to study how increased course reuirements affected student achievement. Also studied were the number of courses that students took, and their college enrollment. A new law in the state of Illinois requires high schoolers to take three years of math and two years of science in order to graduate.
The change follows a national trend: Education officials in 27 states required more high school math courses for the Class of 2013 than they did for the Class of 2006. And 19 states required more science classes, researchers noted.
In Illinois, researchers found that extra STEM courses had little effect on students’ ACT scores. But more students did enroll in college. Some students were more likely to take science, but not math.
States shouldn’t stop at offering more classes; they should also “look for ways to improve student preparation for advanced coursework and to ensure courses remain sufficiently rigorous to challenge all students,” ACT officials said.
Louisiana already bests Illinois in terms of STEM courses required. High school students must take three years of science and four years of math to qualify for a basic diploma. They must also take the ACT. A score of 18 on the ACT is needed to qualify for Louisiana TOPS scholarships and avoid remedial classes.