STEM Education Success Powered by IDEAL Group Reader

Thirty seven years ago, when I began my high-tech career, I never gave a second thought to the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering or Math (STEM). My college education was saturated with STEM courses… and STEM concepts were woven into the fabric of my being.

STEM education creates critical thinkers, increases science literacy, and enables the next generation of innovators. Innovation leads to new products and processes that sustain our economy. Innovation and science literacy depends on building solid knowledge bases in STEM practice and research.

It is clear that most jobs of the future will require a basic understanding of math and science. Ten-year employment projections by the U.S. Department of Labor show that of the 20 fastest growing occupations projected for 2014, 15 of them require significant mathematics or science preparation.

U.S. student achievement in mathematics and science is lagging behind students in much of Asia. International test scores tell us that in math, U.S. eighth-graders were outperformed by eighth-grade students in many other countries.

The Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) is used to compare over time the mathematics and science knowledge and skills of eighth-graders. TIMSS is designed to align broadly with mathematics curricula in the participating countries. The results, therefore, suggest the degree to which students have learned mathematics concepts and skills likely to have been taught in school.  In 2007, there were 58 countries and educational jurisdictions that participated in TIMSS, at the eighth-grade level.

The focus of the report is on the performance of U.S. students relative to their peers in other countries in 2007, and on changes in mathematics and science achievement since 1995. For a number of participating countries, changes in achievement can be documented over the last 12 years, from 1995 to 2007.

Average mathematics scores of eighth-grade students, by country, in 2007
Country Average Score
TIMSS scale average 500
Chinese Taipei 598
Korea, Rep. of 597
Singapore 593
Hong Kong SAR 572
Japan 570
Hungary 517
England 513
Russian Federation 512
United States 508
Lithuania 506
Czech Republic 504
Slovenia 501
Armenia 499
Australia 496
Sweden 491
Malta 488
Scotland 487
Serbia 486
Italy 480
Malaysia 474
Norway 469
Cyprus 465
Bulgaria 464
Israel 463
Ukraine 462
Romania 461
Bosnia and Herzegovina 456
Lebanon 449
Thailand 441
Turkey 432
Jordan 427
Tunisia 420
Georgia 410
Iran, Islamic Rep. of 403
Bahrain 398
Indonesia 397
Syrian Arab Republic 395
Egypt 391
Algeria 387
Colombia 380
Oman 372
Palestinian Nat’l Auth. 367
Botswana 364
Kuwait6 354
El Salvador 340
Saudi Arabia 329
Ghana 309
Qatar 307

STEM courses are most difficult for students with print disabilities. So, what are we doing about this? We are developing fully-accessible STEM-enabled eBook reading software — ePub3 Reader.

Students with print disabilities taking STEM courses can benefit greatly by using an ePub3 Reader… and so can all other students! This reader can read text aloud (just like an audio book) and can do so in 25+ languages.  It can highlight paragraphs, sentences, and words as they are being read.  It enables students to take notes using speech recognition, highlight sections of text to be remembered, and then gather all the important notes together in one place…all automatically.

ePub3 Readers also provide:

  • Significantly improved accessibility. This includes enhanced navigation including jumping to specific chapters, pages, and passages.
  • Video. Videos can be embedded in ePub3 texts.
  • Audio. Audio passages can be embedded in ePub3 texts. They are also better at integrating the current DAISY Accessibility Standards, making them more useful to students with print disabilities.
  • Interactivity: includes features like pop-ups and asides activated by clicking on words in the text.
  • Vertical and right-to-left writing: accommodates a multitude of languages.
  • Multi-column layouts: greatly enhance the reading of STEM texts.
  • MathML Support: enables publishers to convert and publish math texts as ePub3 texts.

It is my sincerest hope that IDEAL ePub3 Reader can, in some small way, help to lift all students closer to the top of the pack in STEM learning successes over the next decade.

For additional STEM accessibility resources from our valued business partners and colleagues please visit:

Steve Jacobsis President of IDEAL Group, Inc. and CEO of Apps4Android, Inc., the world’s largest developer of Android accessibility applications with nearly five million installations in 136 countries.