In a new article published in The Conversation, School of Public Policy Assistant Professor F. Chris Curran shares his latest research that reveals significant achievement gaps in science for students as soon as kindergarten.
The study, which Curran worked on with Ann Kellogg, a public policy Ph.D. student, examined data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study (ECLS-K), a national study conducted by the federal government that uses data from science achievement tests that assessed concepts in physical, life and environmental science, and scientific inquiry.
“Our study revealed large gaps in science achievement in kindergarten between white students and racial or ethnic minorities. And, where science gaps existed, we found that they were generally larger than the gaps in reading or mathematics achievement. However, we did not find significant gaps by gender,” Curran wrote in the article titled “Science achievement gaps start early – in kindergarten.”
Curran, whose research areas of focus include education policy and early childhood education, notes in the article that the results of the study point to the need for increased attention to inequities in science achievement.
“I believe, for example, that teachers and school leaders should look for opportunities to incorporate science concepts into reading and math lessons,” writes Curran. “Looking beyond the classroom setting, the findings of our work and that of others suggest the need to provide support to informal science learning opportunities. Visiting museums, interacting with nature and exploring novel tools all represent ways in which parents and caregivers can support early science inquiry.”
Read the full article in The Conversation, and view additional coverage below.
A new generation of all-girls schools (The Atlantic)
In kindergarten, there is no STEM gender gap (Education Week)
Science achievement gaps start early, in kindergarten (San Francisco Chronicle)
Why startling racial-based gaps in scientific achievement begin in kindergarten (Spare Min Podcast)
Science achievement gap (Academic Minute)
Science achievement gap (Inside Higher Ed)
Image: Chris Curran presents talk at UMBC about his research. Photo by Marlayna Demond ’11 for UMBC.