As math scores lag, experts discuss roles of AI and talent retention

Published: Wednesday, September 27, 2023 - 2:10pm
Audio icon Download mp3 (1.42 MB)

Even before COVID-19 setbacks, the Nation’s Report Card scored only one-third of U.S. fourth graders, and one-quarter of eighth graders, as proficient in math.

Arizona rates follow close behind.

This week, political leaders and education experts met at the Press Club in Washington, D.C., to discuss possible solutions.

U.S. Rep. Jim Baird of Indiana, who co-sponsors the Mathematical and Statistical Modeling Education Act, said math scores require an immediate response.

“Because if our students can't stay current or ahead of some of these other countries, and China's an example, then it becomes a national security issue,” he said.

Physicist and Rep. Bill Foster of Illinois agreed. He touted the bipartisan Keep STEM Talent Act, which echoes Cold-War and post-Cold-War efforts to attract and retain foreign-born scientists. Those scientists, engineers and mathematicians helped split the atom and put humans in space.

“It simply can be described as stapling a green card to a Ph.D. or master's thesis for STEM fields,” he said. “There are people like that all over the developing world, and in some of our enemies, that could make a tremendous contribution here. So that's pretty much at the top of my list.”

Today, nearly two-thirds of U.S. graduate students in fields like artificial intelligence and semiconductor programs were born abroad.

Panelists also discussed the benefits of technologies that can respond to students’ specific needs.

All agreed that policies must look beyond outdated frameworks and focus on progress and competency.

Education Science