A Deeper Look into STEM Readiness

Some students want STEM-related learning and career opportunities so desperately, they make their own.

One example is Wyatt Tauber of Minnesota, whom ACT spotlighted during this year’s ACT College and Career Readiness Campaign. Wyatt is a self-starter and entrepreneur who operates a computer repair service from his home while still in high school. Disheartened with the computer science opportunities in his remote community, he created “Hour of Code” sessions to help K-12 students learn core STEM skills. He’s now pursuing college degrees while earning computer certifications. Educators want to do more to help students like Wyatt attain crucial goals in STEM achievement. It’s a tough battle to fight, but a worthy one.

ACT’s most recent Condition of STEM report notes that 48 percent of ACT-tested students are interested in pursuing STEM-related careers, with interest in computer science and mathematics on the rise over the last five years.

That’s the good news. Here’s the not-so-good news, according to those students’ ACT® test scores:

  • Only 20 percent of those students are ready for first-year college-level STEM courses;
  • Only 1,258 of the 2.1 million students tested—less than 1 percent of the total—had both an expressed and measured interest in teaching STEM, putting future STEM education at risk; and
  • Students interested in a single STEM area aren’t reaching STEM readiness benchmarks.

The situation is even more troubling in terms of educational equity. The STEM achievement of underserved learners—whom ACT defines as students of color, from low-income families, or first generation in college—lags behind their peers’ achievements. Among underserved students showing an overall STEM interest:

  • 15 percent of students with one underserved characteristic met the ACT STEM Readiness Benchmark (compared to 39 percent of students with no underserved characteristics);
  • Six percent of students with two underserved characteristics met the ACT STEM Readiness Benchmark; and
  • Three percent of students with three underserved characteristics met the ACT STEM Readiness Benchmark.

The STEM pipeline that stretches from high school to college to the workforce is considerably leaky, and that affects our country’s ability to find STEM talent and remain competitive in those fields. We must find ways to retain talent within the pipeline so students who are interested in STEM—especially those from underserved backgrounds—don’t leak through the cracks.

ACT is hosting a free webinar to discuss ways to identify STEM pipeline leaks, and what one state is doing to stop them:

A Deeper Look into STEM Readiness

Date: Thursday, July 20 Time: 1 p.m. ET / 10 a.m. PT Duration: 60 minutes


Who should attend: K-12 assessment directors, curriculum directors, principals, superintendents, counselors, and STEM educators; postsecondary admissions professionals and STEM educators; and workforce professionals responsible for hiring and developing employees in STEM-related fields

For more information contact Will Valet, Content Marketing Specialist 319.337.1421

Register Here