Despite decades of effort, low-income and minority students remain vastly underrepresented in science and math related fields.
Bridge to Enter Advanced Mathematics (BEAM) works to address these statistics by meeting students early and bridging the gap between their aspirations and the opportunities provided to them.
The Gap Begins Early
There is a huge disparity in students' mathematical achievement, especially when we look at who is achieving at a high level. On the National Assessment of Educational Progress, only 3% of low-income eighth graders (those eligible for federally-subsidized lunches) score at the Advanced level, while 14% of 8th graders overall score at this level. By 12th grade, the percentage of low-income students scoring at the Advanced level is not even given—it “rounds to zero”.
Percent Scoring at Advanced Level, by Income
Percent Scoring at Advanced Level, by Race/EThnicity
Under-prepared students aren't ready for college courses
"Math, Science Popular Until Students Realize They're Hard," reads the almost satirical headline of a recent Wall Street Journal article. A working paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research found that students who had initially declared majors in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields still dropped out when they faced classes that were harder than they expected, despite their interest in the field. On the other hand, students who had taken advanced courses in high school were better prepared for the true demands of their STEM classes.
STUDENTS DON'T STAY ON STEM PATHWAY
Compared to their affluent peers, students from high-poverty schools who enroll in college:
- Are 24% less likely to attend college than more affluent peers
- Are 40% less likely to choose an engineering major
- Have a GPA that is 0.7 (out of 4) points lower
- Among those who choose engineering, have only an 18% chance of graduating with a degree (compared to 52%)
At every level, low-income students fall out of the pathway in dramatically greater numbers than their peers.