In their paper entitled “The Knowledge Economy,” Stanford professors Walter W. Powell and Kaisa Snellman define it “as production and services based on knowledge-intensive activities that contribute to an accelerated pace of technical and scientific advance, as well as rapid obsolescence. The key component of a knowledge economy is a greater reliance on intellectual capabilities than on physical inputs or natural resources.”
The knowledge economy requires a higher level of skills, but it has become clear that our education system is not equipping students with the skills they need to succeed in the modern workforce. Another common term encountered is the “achievement gap.” There is great concern with the fact that African-American and Hispanic students are falling behind their white counterparts. But when you take a close look at the achievement gap in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), it is horrific.
The knowledge economy is increasingly dependent on college-educated professionals. By 2018, the economy will create 46.8 million new jobs. Nearly two-thirds of these will require workers with at least some college education, with a slight majority requiring workers with a Bachelor’s degree or better.
But current college completion can’t meet this need. The U.S. Census Bureau reported in 2010 only 39% of non-Hispanic whites ages 25-29 had Bachelor’s degrees; the numbers were even less for African-Americans (19%) and Hispanics (14%).
U.S. students are not college ready. The ACT just released their 2013 report on college readiness for students based on this year’s ACT scores. Based on a composite score of math, science, English and reading, they found that only 5% of African American and 14% of Hispanic students are college ready compared to 33% of white students.
The gap in readiness for math and science is even more startling. In math, while 54% of white students are college ready, only 14% of African Americans and 30% of Hispanic students are considered college ready. In science, 45% of white students are college ready while only 10% of African American and 21% of Hispanic students are college ready.-
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