The State of the Elementary School Education System

The American school system begins at age 5 or 6, depending on which state you reside in. Following primary or kindergarten at age 5, students reach elementary school for grades 1 through 5. Grades 6 to 8 are considered middle school or junior high, while 9 to 12 are high school levels. Most students graduate at the age of 17 or 18, although some choose to leave school (drop out) at 16 – which is discouraged. Some states only require students to remain in school until age 16.

Graduating results in a diploma, following which approximately 1 out of every 3 students go on to achieve higher education at college or university. University-level learning then prepares students to enter the workforce.

While the American education system ranks second, falling just below the United Kingdom and just above Canada – it hasn’t evolved much in terms of teaching material.

What Our Students are Missing

The world has evolved at a drastic level over the past few decades. Smartphones, tablets and computers are in every household, and internet was even declared a basic human right by the United Nations in 2016. With all this change you’d expect updates to educational programs in schools to support student advancement into modern technology. Unfortunately, many of the classes remain the same.

In the United States, each state regulates curriculum differently. It’s then broken down again at a regional level and decided by individual school districts as to which courses are taught where. On average, most elementary students in the country will be taught basic math, science, reading, social studies, language arts, music and art. Standardized testing takes place in higher levels of learning to evaluate whether students are obtaining the information evenly throughout American schools.

While all these subjects are valuable in life and in future education, they fail to deliver the tools and skills necessary to live up to modern technological standards.

What Does This Mean for Future Generations?

It’s become apparent that science, technology, engineering, and math make up much of the information required to power modern and future technological needs. Programming computers, designing software and making robotic equipment function are all increasingly important jobs. Yet, studies show that 52% of adults describe the lack of interest in STEM programs to be based on intimidation.

As of 2016, only 13% of American employees were active in STEM careers. The other 87% of the population chose alternative career paths. This means that less than 15% of the entire U.S. population are employed in positions, which focus on science, technology, engineering and math; the basic skills that comprise much of the technology we covet so much as a society.

This could be detrimental to future generations. A fear of STEM education reflects on current skill levels. If children are intimidated because they believe these courses to be too difficult, could it be that as a society we aren’t providing them with enough education in these fields?

The world won’t ever stop advancing in technology. As it becomes more and more ingrained in our society, the importance of understanding it is crucial to its evolution. If American children are missing these integral pieces of the technology puzzle, will they be left behind as the rest of the world advances into STEM-based jobs?

In China, students focus heavily on STEM, and this has become more apparent in recent years. However, even as far back as 2013, China saw 40% of its student population graduate into a STEM field. This is over twice as many students as the U.S. for the same year. To China’s 4.7 million STEM graduates, India had 2.6 million students pursue STEM careers. The United States, however only witnessed 568 thousand graduates from STEM programs.

The Importance of STEM and STEAM Extracurricular Programs

With the lack of support for STEM in the classroom and the fear many students have in pursuing courses pertaining to technology – it’s more important than ever that students have access to STEM extracurriculars. Fortunately, programs like those at iCodeSchool support science, technology, engineering, art, and math education.

They offer students placement in afterschool programs, summer camps, high school “boot camps”, off-campus programs, and even a series of family learning opportunities. The focus of these programs is on providing students with the information required to feel confident in selecting more STEM programs at a university level – and eventually as a career path.

Interested in learning more about iCodeSchool, STEM programs and how they can improve your child’s aptitude for technology? Contact us today or check out our programs online.

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