News Release

Science & Engineering Indicators 2020: State of U.S. STEM education

New reports offer portraits of K-12 and higher education

A piece of the quantum puzzle Credit: P. Roushan/Martinis lab/UC Santa Barbara

A piece of the quantum puzzle (Credit and Larger Version)

September 5, 2019

Just in time for the new school year, the National Science Board today released two new reports that provide the latest data on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education in the United States (U.S.). Both reports are part of Science and Engineering Indicators 2020, a congressionally mandated report on the state of the U.S. science and engineering enterprise. With the 2020 edition, Indicators is changing from a single report released every two years to a set of disaggregated and streamlined reports published on a rolling basis. A third report, on the science and engineering labor force, will follow later this month. 

Elementary and Secondary Mathematics and Science Education covers national trends in K-12 student achievement and compares U.S. student performance with that of other nations. For example, internationally, the U.S. ranks in the middle of 19 advanced economies in producing high-achieving STEM students. U.S. students have shown improvements in technology and engineering literacy as well as in mathematics. The data show gaps in STEM achievement scores by students’ race or ethnicity and socioeconomic status and, to a smaller extent, by sex that appear as early as kindergarten and persist into middle and high school.

Higher Education in Science and Engineering focuses on higher education trends in science and engineering (S&E) in the U.S. and provides comparisons with other nations. S&E fields continue to grow, increasing at the associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral levels between 2000 and 2017. Yet many groups of Americans remain underrepresented among S&E degree recipients. The U.S. remains the destination for the largest number of internationally mobile students worldwide. However, the total number of international students enrolled in U.S. institutions has declined over the past two years.


About Science and Engineering Indicators

Indicators is prepared under the guidance of the National Science Board by the National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics, a federal statistical agency within the National Science Foundation.  

About the National Science Board

The National Science Board and the National Science Foundation's Director jointly head NSF. NSB identifies issues critical to NSF's future and establishes the agency’s policies within the framework of applicable national policies set forth by the President and the Congress. The Board also serves as an independent body of advisors to both the President and the Congress on policy matters related to science and engineering and education in science and engineering. NSB’s 24 members are appointed by the President for six-year terms and selected for their eminence in research, education and records of distinguished service.


Media contact: Nadine Lymn, National Science Board Office, (703) 292-2490,

The U.S. National Science Foundation propels the nation forward by advancing fundamental research in all fields of science and engineering. NSF supports research and people by providing facilities, instruments and funding to support their ingenuity and sustain the U.S. as a global leader in research and innovation. With a fiscal year 2023 budget of $9.5 billion, NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 40,000 competitive proposals and makes about 11,000 new awards. Those awards include support for cooperative research with industry, Arctic and Antarctic research and operations, and U.S. participation in international scientific efforts.

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