Written by: Reagan Flowers, Ph.D.
It is more important than ever to addressing disparities early on in a child’s education is re-affirmed with a new study revealing drastic racial and ethnic learning gaps as early as kindergarten. The research found achievement at 13%-16% for White kindergartners displayed advanced science or mathematics versus just 3%-4% of Black or Hispanic students. The study also found that economic and educational policies designed to increase racial and ethnic representation in STEM courses, degree completion, and the workforce affirms my understanding that we must begin in elementary school, Pre-Kindergarten to be exact.
Disparities continue to increase throughout elementary school. By fifth grade, 13% of White students and 22% of Asian students display advanced math skills, while only 2% of Black and 3% of Hispanic students do so. The numbers look similar for advanced science skills. I have always shared that a student will either find success with learning or not in the second grade, a pivotal year of learning in elementary school.
A Comprehensive Look At Early Learning Gaps
We have long known when it comes to engaging students in STEM learning activities, the earlier, the better. However, up to now, few studies have looked at disparities as early as kindergarten.
The referenced study looked at the achievement of nearly 11,000 students. Factors that created disparities are similar to those seen with older students, including higher likelihood of being economically disadvantaged, challenges with bilingual learners who have a language other than English spoken at home, and lack of learning opportunities at home and school. Girls and students with disabilities face additional challenges. Read more…