broadly show that all individuals, with a small number of notable exceptions, can engage in and learn complex subject matter—especially if it connects to areas of personal interest and consequence—when supportive conditions and feedback mechanisms are in place and the learner makes a sustained effort [7, 8]. As we detail in the next section, a growing set of studies in science education show a similar consensus that students—from across social classes and other demographic groupings—can learn science when provided with supportive conditions to learn over an extended period [9-12]. Significant and persistent achievement gaps in science do exist on national and state assessments for low-income and minority students, but these outcomes should not be seen as stemming from an inability of some students to be capable of engaging in sophisticated learning.
Educational standards should therefore establish science and engineering learning goals that reflect common expectations for all students. Just as they are expected to learn how to read and write, they should also be expected to learn the core ideas and practices of science and engineering.
EQUALIZING OPPORTUNITIES TO LEARN
Science and engineering are growing in their societal importance, yet access to a high-quality education in science and engineering remains determined in large part by an individual’s socioeconomic class, racial or ethnic group, gender, language background, disability designation, or national origin. As summarized by Banks et al.: “Being born into a racial majority group with high levels of economic and social resources—or into a group that has historically been marginalized with low levels of economic and social resources—results in very different lived experiences that include unequal learning opportunities, challenges, and potential risks for learning and development” . Many students from lower socioeconomic strata enter formal schooling with smaller academic vocabularies , have less access to organized extracurricular activities and supplemental supports , and have less social capital mobilized on their behalf than their more economically advantaged peers . Given the expectations of schooling, these differences pose numerous
All individuals, with a small number of notable exceptions, can engage in and learn complex subject matter … when supportive conditions and feedback mechanisms are in place and the learner makes a sustained effort.