This report presents indicators of STEM elementary and secondary education and student learning and preparation for entry into STEM postsecondary majors and careers. Findings show that the COVID-19 pandemic set student achievement in mathematics back to levels last seen approximately 20 years ago. In addition, findings show that COVID-19 had a greater impact on students with already historically lower scores, with large score declines for Black and Hispanic students, students eligible for free or reduced-price lunch, and students scoring in the 10th and 25th percentiles. An analysis of education indicators related to COVID-19 suggests that learning disruptions caused by the pandemic could lead to reduced lifetime earnings for affected students.

A pre-pandemic international assessment in 2019 shows that eighth graders in the United States have mathematics and science scores that rank about in the middle of education systems in countries with advanced economies. Better international performance may be needed if the United States is to reach NSB’s Vision 2030 goal of remaining preeminent in S&E and leading global innovation. An analysis of high school coursetaking indicates that students are completing more STEM courses in high school than they had in prior decades, with almost all students earning credits equivalent to 4 years of mathematics and science. Despite these gains, student performance in mathematics has not improved for 12th graders compared with 2005, and less than a third of high school graduates are reaching college readiness benchmarks in STEM subjects.

The indicators presented in this report highlight issues in STEM education that may need to be addressed to ensure that all students have the opportunity to succeed in STEM. Implementing evidence-based interventions to address learning disruptions caused by the pandemic and ensuring that all students have equal access to quality STEM education are two areas to consider as the country strives to meet the NSB’s Vision 2030 goal of continuing to grow a strong STEM-capable workforce.