Equity in PreK-12 STEM Education
Effective Years: 2021-2024
Inequity in education is a critical issue in the United States with well-documented evidence that many students receive substantially lower quality educations due to structural inequity in public schooling. These inequities are particularly pronounced in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education where issues of access to high quality instruction and advanced coursework are intertwined with stereotypes and biases about which students can succeed in STEM. Using the consensus study process of the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM), NASEM’s Board on Science Education (BOSE) will convene an expert committee to investigate the specific ways that educational inequity manifests in STEM education and make actionable recommendations for how education stakeholders at all levels can take steps to address these inequities. The final report will elevate common threads in policy, program design, and practice that lead to success in improving STEM education outcomes for those students who have traditionally been marginalized in the STEM disciplines. By identifying those common threads in policy and practice and elevating them through the vehicle of a BOSE consensus study report, this study will provide the entire STEM education community, from policymakers at the highest levels to classroom teachers, with the trusted resource they need to advocate and support productive change in policy and practice. This project is funded by the EHR Core Research (ECR) program, which supports work that advances fundamental research on STEM learning and learning environments, broadening participation in STEM, and STEM workforce development.
The proposed consensus study will provide a synthesis of a wide range of research literatures relevant to addressing inequity in PreK-12 STEM subjects. This synthesis will provide for a comprehensive understanding of how policy and program interventions at the federal, state, district, and classroom levels have attempted to address inequity in STEM education—both in terms of inputs and outcomes—with attention to replicable strategies and practices. An expert committee will examine the evidence base related to inequity in STEM education; consider policies and interventions at the state, district, school, and classroom level that have shown evidence of addressing inequity in STEM education; and develop recommendations and a research agenda for the field. This study will take a systemic perspective that examines how policies at various levels might interact with one another, resulting in a report that integrates multiple lines of evidence that have developed in isolation from one another. To complement and deepen the committee’s analysis of the research evidence, the study will employ five regional stakeholder field engagement events around the country to understand the concerns of specific communities and to identify the range of opportunities and challenges experienced across different education contexts. By highlighting areas where those evidence bases converge (as well as documenting areas of disagreement and gaps in the evidence), the final report will look across disciplinary lines of research and consider how they might be integrated to provide more coherent approaches to addressing inequity in STEM education. This integrated understanding may provide new perspectives on how to address inequity in PreK-12 STEM education and identify areas where more research is needed. Ultimately, the study will help to catalyze change toward a more diverse, equitable, inclusive, and accessible STEM educational experience for all.
This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.