- A new longitudinal study by researchers from Pennsylvania State University and the University of California published in Educational Researcher journal says that the gap in science performance for black and white middle schoolers begins with disparities in early childhood education.
- Researchers followed 7,000 kindergarten students from 1998, until 2007, when they were enrolled in eighth grade, to measure the achievement gap over time.
- According to the study, a child's experience before pre-k and kindergarten also have an effect, noting that low-income toddlers have fewer early opportunities to learn about the natural and social sciences.
The performance gap examined in this new report, which is related specifically to science, may extend to other subjects too. Many of the reasons cited for the gap are related to class and poverty, and affect student learning in math, reading, and other subjects as well.
Later on, high schoolers remain divided by the achievement gap. Recently, in 2013, the ACT was reportedly taken by the most diverse group of students in its history, but just 11% of black students scored "college ready" as compared to 49% of white students. The 2014 English section had the biggest achievement gap with 76% of white students and 34% of black students hitting targets.
According to the authors of the new study, parents and teachers need to work together to make sure 3 and 4-year-olds are asked more questions at home, spoken to regularly, and asked to describe their surroundings. Programs used to bridge literacy gaps may also be adapted to address a lack of science proficiency.