A growing portion of Iowa’s ACT test-takers have an interest in a science, technology, engineering or mathematics major or job, according to the 2013 Condition of STEM report.
Of Iowa’s 22,377 ACT test-takers in 2013 – accounting for 66 percent of all high school graduates – almost half, at 49 percent, have an interest in pursuing a STEM career, according to the report made public Wednesday. That 49 percent represents a 2.2 percent increase since 2009.
The report looked at both “expressed” interest in STEM programming among Iowa’s 2013 high school graduates who took the ACT and “measured” interest. Expressed interest counts students who say they intend to pursue a particular major or occupation, and measured interest is derived from student responses to an “ACT Interest Inventory” questionnaire.
The report indicates that achievement is highest when expressed and measured interest match.
Of Iowa’s 11,041 graduates who are interested in STEM programming, 4,153 showed both expressed and measured STEM interest, according to the report. That percentage places Iowa among the top 10 states of comparable test-taking populations, although Iowa stands to improve in several categories, the report shows.
Female interest in STEM in Iowa is slightly lower than male interest at 46.2 percent – although the female interest has gained ground faster than the male since 2009 – at 2.8 percent compared to 1.5 percent, according to the report.
Interest is at 42.6 percent for African-Americans in Iowa and 40.4 percent for Native Americans, both slight dips from 2009, the report shows.
In response to the report, Iowa Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds said it shows “positive progress is being made in Iowa, especially when compared to similar states.”
“Having a successful STEM strategy in Iowa is critical for helping young Iowans understand the breadth of opportunities that await them following graduation,” Reynolds said in a news release.
The U.S. Department of Labor reports a strong STEM job outlook, and more than half of the jobs listed in a recent U.S. News and World Report ranking of the 100 best jobs of 2014 were STEM-related.