In 1995, in my state of Oregon, the legislature came up with a new educational reform that promised to improve test scores, the graduation rate, and prepare more kids for college. Called the Education Act for the 21st Century, it was widely applauded by the federal, state, and local governments as the answer to poorly performing schools.

Under this educational reform, schools would issue Certificates of Initial mastery (CIM) and certificates for advance mastery (CAM) to students who attained the new standards.

Four years later, Oregon test scores showed no improvement. Seventeen years later, The Oregonian reported that “Oregon high schools have made zero progress in getting more students to graduate with the skills they need to pass college classes."

At about the same time as the Oregon reform, the federal government came up with “No Child Left Behind," which also did not meet its goals, particularly for high school dropouts.

Now the most recent educational reform known is known by the acronym STEM, which stands for science, technology, engineering and math. Manufacturing and other high-technology industries desperately need students who have had a STEM-focused education.

The Manufacturing Institute reports that “67% of respondents to their survey reported a moderate to severe shortage of qualified workers.” They add that this lack of qualified candidates results in approximately 600,000 jobs not being filled today.

Meanwhile, the article "STEM Education, Meet the New Manufacturing," makes a case that “over the next decade, nearly 3.5 million manufacturing jobs will need to be filled, but the skills gap is expected to result in 2 million of those job going unfilled.”

According to a study done by Georgetown University, “America isn’t producing enough students trained in STEM fields to fill the jobs of the future.” And an article in IndustryWeek reports that “high school grads with STEM backgrounds are now in higher demand in the job market than college graduates who don’t have STEM skills."

...it seems like every time we need a revolution in education, the leaders in Industry, Government and Education decide what the solution must be without a careful examination of the very people who must be trained—the students."

The solution to this dilemma—and many others—according to many pundits, is to increase STEM learning in our education system.

I could go on with examples, but I think you get the message. This new STEM educational reform is not only expected to make all students better at math and science; it is expected to save American Manufacturing, improve innovation, solve literacy problems, lift students out of poverty, and help immigrants stay in the country.

This is mission creep based on wishful thinking, where the new initiative has taken on a life of its own.