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Jlnu Kurt Landgraf,~ President Educational Testing Service (ETS) FINDINGS The United States is expected to face a growing demand for techni- cally trained workers over the next 20 years as the baby boomers retire. From 2000 to 2010, for example, the number of job openings for computer specialists is expected to grow by a remarkable 69 percent, to about 4.9 million jobs. Employment growth for physical scientists (+18 percent), engineers (+9 percent), and mathematical scientists (+6 percent) is also expected to be substantial.2 At the same time, the supply of young persons who have the techni- cal education and training to fill these job openings appears to be shrink- ing or, at least, the pool is not growing quickly enough to fill the pro- jected demand. From 1987-88 to 1997-98, the percentage of bachelor's degrees awarded in engineering (-14 percent), computer science (-22 per- cent), and mathematics (-26 percent) dropped substantially, while over the same period the percentage of degrees awarded in physical science and science technology rose by 9 percent.3 iThe author wishes to thank Paul Barton and Tony Carnevale of Educational Testing Ser- vice for their contributions to this paper. 2Daniel Hecker, "Employment Outlook: 2000-10," Monthly Labor Review, November 2001, pp. 65-66. 3National Center for Education Statistics, Digest of Education Statistics, 2000.
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UNDERREPRESENTATION OF PERSONS OF COLOR The training of future scientists and engineers who are Black or His- panic is a matter of particular concern because these groups have his- torically been underrepresented in these fields and because they are a large and growing proportion of our nation's population. As Educa- tional Testing Service (ETS) policy analyst Paul Barton has observed, "When we look at where we are going to get more scientists and engi- neers from our population growth, we run into the stark fact that the minorities are the majority.... There is thus no clear demarcation be- tween a discussion of the needs in the science and engineering arena in general, and a discussion of the needs of increasing 'minority' represen- tation in specific."4 In recent years, some progress has been made in raising the propor- tion of higher-education degrees conferred to Black, Hispanic, and Na- tive American students in particular, bachelor's degrees in science and engineering. Nonetheless, underrepresentation continues to be a serious problem ~ see Table 1 ). In 2001, about 3 in 10 individuals in their 20s in the U.S. were Black non-Hispanic, Hispanic, or American Indian/Alas- kan Native. However, only 15 percent (or fewer than 2 in 10) of the bachelor's degree recipients in this country were members of these ra- cial/ethnic groups, and even lower proportions of master's (8 percent, or fewer than 1 in 10) and doctorate degree recipients (6 percent) were of these groups.5 TABLE 1 Science and Engineering Degrees Awarded to Underrepresented Persons of Color as a Percent of Total Degrees in Those Fields, 1990 and 1998. Bachelor's Degrees 1990 1998 1990 1998 Master's Doctorate Degrees Degrees 1990 1998 All Underrepresented Groups of Color Black Non-Hispanic Hispanic American Indian/Alaskan Native 9.7 14.7 5.3 7.6 4.0 6.5 0.4 0.6 5.0 8.2 2.6 4.3 2.2 3.5 0.3 0.4 3.9 1.6 2.0 0.2 5.5 2.4 2.8 0.4 Source: Susan T. Hill, National Science Foundation, 2001; cited in Paul Barton, Meeting the Need for Scientists, Engineers, and an Educated Citizenry in a Technological Society, ETS Policy Information Report, May 2002 4Paul Barton, Meeting the Needfor Scientists, Engineers, and an Educated Citizenry in a Techno- logical Society. ETS Policy Information Report, May 2002, p. 18. 5Susan T. Hill, Science and Engineering Degrees by Race/Ethnicity of Recipients: 1990-1998, National Science Foundation, June 2001.
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PAN-~CANIZAHONAL SUMMIT PREPARATION DURING THE K-12 YEARS K-12 education Is obviously an important factor In dete~ung whether students pursue (and attain) science and eng~neenng degrees and subsequent career opportunities. While progress appears to have been made over fume, stu- dents of color In grades K-12 continue to perform less well Han over student groups, on average, In ma~emadcs and science as well as In over subject areas. Further, students of color are less likely to reach the highest levels of achievement. For example, in the 2000 National Assessment of Educa- tional Progress, only 4 percent of Hispanic twelfth graders and 3 percent of Black twelfth graders reached the "proficient" level of mathematics achievement, compared with 20 percent of white students and 34 percent of Asian/Pacific Islander students.6 These performance disparities do not suddenly appear in high school; in fact, researchers have found that ra- cial/ethnic differences in cognitive development and performance are evident even at the time children enter kindergarten.7 Part of the problem is that students of color are disproportionately likely to attend "disadvantaged schools where overall academic and sup- porting environments are less conducive to learning."8 As a result, they continue to be substantially underrepresented in advanced high school courses in mathematics and science, as well as in other areas of study. For example, only about 3 to 4 percent of Black and Hispanic students take advanced placement (AP) calculus in high school, compared with about twice as many white students (7.5 percent) and more than three times as many Asian/Pacific Islander students (13.4 percent) (see Table 2~. This is a matter of particular concern because research has shown that the intensity of a student's high school curriculum is the best predictor of persistence to college degree; in fact, it is a better predictor than test scores, GPA, or class rank.9 6Paul Barton, Meeting the Need, p. 16. 7Rich Coley, An Uneven Start: Indicators of Inequality in School Readiness, Policy Information Report, Educational Testing Service, March 2002; Jerry West, Kristin Denton, and Elvira Geronimo-Hausken, America's Kindergartners, National Center for Education Statistics, 2000, cited in Barton, p. 19. Samuel S. Peng, DeeAnn Wright, and Susan T. Hill, Understanding Racial-Ethnic Differ- ences in Secondary School Science and Mathematics Achievement, U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, cited in Barton, p. 22. 9Clifford Adelman, Answers in the Tool Box: Academic Intensity, Attendance Patterns, and Bachelor's Degree Attainment, U.S. Department of Education, June 1999, cited in Barton, p. 24.
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F~F—1 Yam ~ Serf—~ T ~ or ~~ft~1rx r.~ f—Fetter 3~Tf~ C~^ ~ twined ~ C~ ~ I1~4 ~^~I~ TABLE 2 Percentage of Public High School Graduates Taking Selected Mathematics and Science Courses in High School, by Race/Ethnicity, 1998 ~7 Courses Asian/ (Carnegie units) Total White Black Hispanic Pacif Isl Mathematics Calculus 11.0 12.1 6.6 6.2 18.4 AP Calculus 7.3 7.5 3.4 3.7 13.4 S. clence AP/honors biology 16.2 16.7 15.4 12.6 22.2 AP/honors chemistry 4.7 4.8 3.5 4.0 10.9 AP/honors physics 3.0 3.0 2.1 2.1 7.6 Source: Digest of Education Statistics, 2001, Ch. 2, table 142; http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2002/ digest2001 /tables/dtl42.asp PERSISTENCE IN SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING DEGREE PROGRAMS The number of students of color who succeed in advanced high school math and science curricula is disproportionately small to begin with, and many of those who do excel in these courses in high school end up decid- ing not to pursue science, engineering, or mathematics degrees in college. Further, those who initially plan to do so often change their minds, opting for other majors instead. In fact, while 10 percent of Black undergraduate students stated that their intended major was in the natural sciences, only 6 percent actually received a degree in that area. Similarly, while 12 percent of Hispanic undergraduates initially identified engineering as their intended major, only 6 percent went on to attain an engineering degree.~° Part of the reason for this attrition may be that students who pursue math, science, and engineering majors in college have to endure more diffi- cult requirements and grading standards than other students do. The college grades of students who passed AP calculus in high school, for example, vary tremendously by subject area about 85 percent received an A or B for their English courses, versus about 55 percent for their mathematics courses. i°Tony Carnevale, Educational Testing Service, personal communication. iiTony Carnevale, analysis based on Rick Morgan and Len Ramist, Advanced Placement Students in College: An Investigation of Course Grades at 21 Colleges, ETS Report No. SR-98-13, February 1998.
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PAN-~CANIZAHONAL SUMMIT However, academic pressure and grading practices are not the only explanations for the defection of students of color from advanced degree programs in science and engineering. When students of color who drop out of Ph.D. programs are asked why they left, their reasons tend to have less to do with the difficulty of the work and more to do with the culture of the institution or program; 13 percent cited personal reasons for leaving. RECOMMENDATIONS Start early, start fairly. Expanded (and improved) early childhood development and education programs can help to even the academic play- ing field for underrepresented students of color. By preparing all children for school success from the earliest years of their lives, we can help to reduce inequalities in achievement in the K-12 period as well as expand the supply of high school graduates who are prepared to pursue higher education and ultimately, careers in science and engineering. Strengthen K-12 math and science education. Strengthening the teaching of math and science in grades K-12 will be necessary to increase the number of students who reach the highest levels of achievement and to reduce racial/ethnic disparities in performance that currently exist. Improving K-12 science and math education will not only mean increas- ing the number of teachers, it will also mean changing how teachers are prepared for science and math teaching, as well as making the teaching profession more attractive by improving the working environment.~3 High schools must ensure that they offer rigorous math and science courses and that they encourage and support students of color to take them. As research has shown, the intensity of the high school curriculum is an important predictor of whether a student of color succeeds in a col- lege science or engineering degree program. Success and persistence in higher education depend on a strong foundation in high school math and science. Some have recommended the creation of a pre-engineering course of study from middle school through high school. Such a program would include a comprehensive high school curriculum offering college-level certification and course credits, a middle school technology curriculum, extensive training for teachers and school counselors, and access to af- fordable equipment.~4 i2Adapted from Barbara Lovitts, Leaving the Ivory Tower, 2001. i3Before It's Too Late: A Report to the Nation from the National Commission on Mathematics and Science Teaching for the 21st Century, September 2000. i4For example, the High Schools That Work project, cited in Barton, p. 20.
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OF - 1 TO ~ rTiTf - ~ T ~ T ~~ flex r.~ IT TTf - To C~^ ~ twined ~ C~ ~ I1~4 ~^~I~ The need for counseling deserves special comment. Even those stu- dents who achieve well enough in high school to be qualified to enter a college degree program in science, math, or engineering require counsel- ing and support to ensure that they do go to college and succeed there. This is particularly true for students from underresourced backgrounds, students of color among them because many of these young people lack the kind of support at home and from relatives that is more readily avail- able to students from advantaged families. Beyond increasing the avail- ability of school guidance services and improving the ratio of counselors to students, there is a need for involvement and support from volunteers and staff from concerned corporations. Promote persistence in undergraduate degree programs. Many stu- dents who enter college, including but not limited to those from ethnic groups that are underrepresented in college, fail to stay and complete the degree. Given the projected future shortage of scientists and engineers, it will be extremely important to take steps to ensure that all students, and high-ability students of color in particular, persist to graduation. Although research has shown that ethnicity per se is a poor predictor of persistence (in fact, the persistence rate among high-ability students of color is particularly high), there is still room for improvement. Exploring why some students persist and others do not helps to uncover areas in need of intervention. An ETS study has shown that one important characteristic of "persisters" is that they find the study of math, science, or engineering at the college level to be enjoyable, interesting, and rewarding, and they have a personal commitment to these fields as a career. Further, students are more likely to persist if they have been involved in recruitment or enrich- ment programs for students of color; and if a scientist or engineer through a summer job or part-time work has influenced them.~5 These findings indicate the need for programs that give promising students of color opportunities for summer work in science and engineer- ing, as well as programs that focus on improving the climate of under- graduate schools for persons of color. Train more scientists for industry. As the baby boomers retire over the next 20 years, the United States will face a substantial shortage of workers who are trained in science, engineering, and mathematics, espe- cially for technical or R&D occupations in private industry. Higher-edu- cation degree programs in science, engineering, and mathematics must respond to this demand. At present, colleges and universities are produc- ing an oversupply of science, engineering, and mathematician research assistants and Ph.D.'s with limited academic job prospects. The real need is for individuals who are professionally trained in science, engineering,
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PAN-~CANIZAHONAL SUMMIT and mathematics and equipped to work in technical industries and occu- pations outside of academia. CONCLUSIONS As the research summarized here shows, our nation's failure to draw scientists and engineers from its entire population to increase the repre- sentation of persons of color is a significant and growing problem, given demographic trends and the rising demand for scientists and engineers. Fortunately, there is no shortage of information about ways to address this problem. The challenge is to use the available research wisely to de- sign programs and interventions that will eradicate racial/ethnic dispari- ties in academic performance and greatly expand educational and em- ployment opportunities for persons of color. Clearly, it is not enough to focus efforts at the graduate education level and ignore what comes before (or after). To achieve the goals high- lighted here, it will be necessary to take a comprehensive approach, start- ing at the earliest years of schooling and continuing through the entire educational and employment spectrum.
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