- Associated Press - Tuesday, January 13, 2015

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) - New Hampshire is falling short of employers’ needs in science, technology, engineering and math education and must take concrete steps to better prepare students for careers in those fields, a new report says.

The report, issued on Tuesday by a task force created by Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan, outlines eight recommendations to better train teachers and educate students in those STEM fields. New Hampshire companies are increasingly seeking people with those skills to fill jobs in advanced manufacturing, information technology, health care and other fields.

More than half of STEM jobs require a bachelor’s degree, and New Hampshire ranks 32nd nationally in the percentage of bachelor’s degrees received in those fields, the report said.

“The time to act, to organize efforts, to move forward on enhancing STEM K-12 education is now,” the report concludes. “Other nations out-compete our nation in STEM education, other states are expanding their efforts faster than New Hampshire, and the state’s STEM workforce pipeline is failing to keep pace with the needs of our employers.”

The initiatives should be funded through public and private investments, says the report, which suggests creating a STEM K-12 Education Innovation Fund, a collaboration among the New Hampshire Coalition for Business and Education, the New Hampshire Charitable Fund and the state’s Department of Education. The fund would be in addition to what is already spent on education.

The governor’s office is focused on the eight recommendations, which do not include the fund, and no details have been worked out regarding how the fund would be developed, how large it would be and how it would be paid for, Hassan spokesman William Hinkle said.

The report also shows a lack of teachers qualified to teach these subjects in New Hampshire’s elementary, middle and high schools. During the 2012-13 school year, there were enough qualified teachers to fill only half of the 184 open science and math jobs, the report says.

Other recommendations include:

- Allowing students to deviate from the typical high school math trajectory to earn math requirements through classes focusing on data and statistical analysis or coding and computer science.

- Having the state Department of Education adopt a new set of science standards known as the Next Generation Science Standards.

- Giving students more opportunities for applied learning through competitions.

- Developing personal learning standards for students starting in seventh grade.

- Creating a New Hampshire Math and Science Academy for students highly interested in STEM careers.

- Creating an advisory council to promote and track STEM education for girls.

- Better integrating math and science lessons across all subjects.

- Better training teachers for STEM subjects.

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