The American Electronics Association (AEA) CyberEducation study found that U.S. students' attainment of associate to doctoral degrees in engineering, computer science, math, and physics have declined 5 percent between 1990 and 1996. However, business information systems degrees have climbed 24 percent for the same time period.
"Although there are some bright spots in the CyberEducation results, the bottom line is that the U.S. educational system is not adequately preparing our youth for today's information age economy," AEA chief executive William Archey said in a statement.
Still, the report, which examined education in all 50 states, does offer some explanations for the drop, such as students entering the job market before completing their degrees.
Other findings include that California colleges handed out the most high-tech degrees but awarded 1,600 fewer degrees in 1996 than in 1990. On the other hand, Virginia was No. 1 in growth for tech-related degrees granted.
Of the leading technology states--including California, Texas, New York, Illinois, and Massachusetts--none excel in standard math and science scores, according to the report. However, the study points out that U.S. students are taking more math and science and doing better on standardized tests, although they still trail international students.
"This strongly suggests that these states must make a great commitment to strengthening their primary and secondary education, particularly in math and science," the report concludes.
This assertion was echoed in a federal report. The National Science Policy Study, completed by the House Science Committee last fall, called on Congress to strengthen education investment in science and engineering, which no doubt would bolster the domestic worker pool for the computer industry.