A Snapshot: The State of STEM in Florida (2010)

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In January of 2009, Enterprise Florida’s Strategy Council issued a Discussion Paper that outlined its findings relative to the current state of STEM – science, technology, engineering and mathematics – education and the need for a STEM proficient workforce to advance Florida’s innovation economy. The findings indicate that 15 of the 20 fastest growing jobs through 2014 will require substantial math and science preparation, and that Florida, as well as the United States more generally, is failing to develop an adequate supply of STEM‐capable workers. Florida’s increasingly knowledge‐based economy is driven by  innovation, which has a sits foundation a dynamic and well‐educated workforce equipped with STEM knowledge and skills. While the economy calls for a larger and more proficient STEM workforce, enrollment and success in those courses is declining. As a state and nation, we are losing ground.

In response to this information, leaders from the business, education, policy, and research communities have pledged to work collaboratively to create and implement a business‐led, evidence‐based, STEM plan that will position Florida as a leader in market relevant STEM talent development and retention.  his plan will link the needs of targeted industries with education and training to create and sustain a seamless system for STEM education in Florida.

We submit this report of the current state of STEM in Florida to serve as a resource describing achievement and performance baseline data to be used in the development of a strategic STEM plan. As a result of advancements in technology and an increasingly global economy, Floridians today compete in an international job market. Therefore, we begin this report by comparing the performance of K‐12 students in our nation to that of students in other nations, using findings from both the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) and the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA). Sources of information on the achievement of Florida’s K‐12 students include the National Assessment of Educational Programs (NAEP), the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT), student enrollment in upper level courses, and student achievement on Advanced Placement (AP) exams. Within the Florida State University System (SUS) and Independent Colleges and Universities of Florida (ICUF), we examine metrics including course enrollment, majors chosen, and degrees awarded across a variety of STEM fields. Additionally, we utilize these sources for evidence regarding the relative performance of females and minorities. In order to advance our state’s economy, we must focus on improving the STEM proficiency of ALL Floridians. To achieve this aim, Florida has  adopted the Next Generation Sunshine State Standards, identifying the deep content knowledge and skills that each student must demonstrate, and is revising the FCAT accordingly. Finally, we indicate sources of information for describing the current STEM workforce in Florida. Science and Engineering Indicators 2010, produced biennially by the National Science Board, contains state trends in science and technology. These indicators are useful in examining Florida’s STEM progress, and in determining its national rankings. We hope that this STEM education and workforce information may be of use to business leaders as they define the regional and statewide needs of Florida ‐ the demand side of the workforce equation.