Present in class yet absent in science: The individual and societal impact of inequitable science instruction and challenge to improve science instruction



Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Publication Title

Science Education




equity, science education


Current science instruction does not educate K-12 students equitably and creates short- and long-term impacts on individual students and society. While students may be present in class, they may not have access to quality science learning experiences. The goals of this paper are to show how science instruction may not be reaching its aim of equitable access and to offer recommendations for creating a new baseline standard for equitable science instruction. Though not exhaustive, this paper identifies groups of students who are marginalized in current-day science instruction—the racially minoritized, those with physical and cognitive differences, and those in urban or rural communities. First, this paper challenges the neutrality of science by highlighting systemic yet negative outcomes that disproportionately impact minoritized populations in everyday life because of the narrow network of people who define and solve problems. Second, this paper identifies examples where science instruction is not of its highest quality for the highlighted groups. Third, we present a synthesis of research-informed solutions proposed to improve both the quality of science instruction and its equitable access for the highlighted groups, creating a new baseline standard for equitable science instruction. An elevated baseline would address the existing disparities in who has access to quality science instruction and consequently reduce the gatekeeper effect of who defines and solves societal problems that perpetuate intergenerational inequities.

Open Access