New Jersey Institute of Technology Release Pre-College Survey: Residents Say Students Are Not Taught Enough About Math And Science

NEWARK, Oct. 18–New Jersey residents say that math and science play a critical role in their lives, but think that high school students in New Jersey graduate with insufficient knowledge of those subjects, according to the New Jersey Institute of Technology Survey on K-12 Science and Math Education released today.

Although nearly nine out of ten adults agree that a knowledge of science and math is as valuable as knowing how to read and write, just 37 percent believe that by the time a child has graduated from a local high school he will have learned enough about science.

The survey found that New Jersey residents – especially parents of New Jersey school children – give their local schools high marks. Two out of three residents say that the public schools in their area are good or excellent, while three out of four parents of public school children give such a high rating.

“According to New Jersey residents--who represent a microcosm of the rest of the nation-- learning math, science, and technology matters as much as reading,” says Joel Bloom, Ed.D., vice president for academic and student services at NJIT, who oversees pre-college programs. NJIT has had a 30-year-history of preparing pre-college students for a college education in science, engineering, mathematics, or technology.

More Highlights

• Nearly half of New Jersey adults named math (33 percent) or science and technology (14 percent) as the subjects they liked the least when they themselves were in high school. Today’s school children, however, are far more comfortable with these subjects. More than half (55 percent) of New Jersey parents say that their children are very interested in science, and 43 percent say their children are very interested in math.

• When asked to name the subject they use most in their current job and in everyday life, as many New Jersey adults list math (32 percent) as those who list reading and English (32 percent). Among those under the age of 34, and those with higher incomes, more say math than any other subject.

• More than two in five New Jersey parents say their children know what they want to be when they grow up. And when those parents are asked which school subjects their children will need to do well in to have a chance to succeed in their chosen line of work, math and science are at the top of the list.

• Over half (55 percent) of New Jersey adults agree that science and math are harder to learn than other subjects, but just as many (57 percent) agree with the statement that “anyone can understand science.”

• Close to two in three (63 percent) parents – including seven in ten (71 percent) moms and just over half (53 percent) of dads – say that they help their children with their homework every night.
 Under half (48 percent) of parents of public school children say they have ever talked about their child’s science education with their child’s teacher.

 More parents (68 percent) report talking with their child’s teacher about their child’s math curriculum.

• Though a large majority (83 percent) of adults agree that girls and boys are equally able to understand science and math, nearly two in five (38 percent) say that girls are discouraged from pursuing engineering careers.

• Most New Jersey adults reject the idea that science is for geeks. Nearly three in five disagree that it is harder for a child to fit in with peers if they like science and math.

 In households with higher incomes and higher levels of education, adults are less likely to agree that a child who is interested in science will have a hard time fitting in.

The poll was conducted among 400 New Jersey adults selected randomly from a list of residential phone numbers. The interviews were conducted by telephone from Oct. 11-14, 2001. Quotas were established by region based on census population figures in New Jersey counties. The margin of error for this survey is ±4.9 percent on the overall sample. The margin of error on sub-samples is greater.

“We’ve asked these questions because NJIT is committed to increasing student involvement in the math and sciences,” says Bloom. As part of this commitment, NJIT recently received a $2.5 million grant from the New Jersey Commission on Higher Education to introduce more math and science in the schools through a pre-engineering curriculum.

“We were funded to change how people think about math and sciences,” adds Bloom. “The survey was our starting point and it gave us not only baseline data but dispelled an old myth that math and science are less important than reading.

“As New Jersey’s public technological research university, we are concerned about how many students study math, science and engineering. For students to pursue careers in technology at the college level, the youngster must be excited about these subjects in secondary and even elementary schools. That is why NJIT has been a leader in pre-college education.

“Moreover, this is not a New Jersey problem, but a national dilemma that federal legislators are examining. The Tech Talent Bill (S.1549) would earmark $25 million for tech-education grants in 2002 to help more students earn technological undergraduate degrees.”


NJIT is a public, scientific and technological research university enrolling more than 8,800 students. The university offers bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees to students in 80 degree programs throughout its six colleges: Newark College of Engineering, New Jersey School of Architecture, College of Science and Liberal Arts, School of Management, Albert Dorman Honors College and College of Computing Sciences. The division of continuing professional education offers adults eLearning, off campus degrees and short courses. Expertise and research initiatives include architecture and building science, applied mathematics, biomedical engineering, environmental engineering and science, information technology, manufacturing, materials, microelectronics, multimedia, telecommunications, transportation and solar astrophysics. Yahoo! Internet Life magazine cites NJIT as a “perennially most wired” university.

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