Improving Accessibility in STEM Education

STEM Education pic

STEM Education
Image: Norwin School District STEM Education

Recently named the assistant superintendent of the School District of Philadelphia, Eric Becoats is also the founder and CEO of the Becoats Foundation. In this capacity, Eric Becoats has nurtured community partnerships to bring STEM education and other programs to a diverse population of learners.

A wide disparity currently exists in levels of achievement for white versus minority students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education. While 75 percent of white 12th-graders scored “Basic” or better on a recent National Assessment of Educational Progress exam, only 45 percent of Latinos and 36 percent of black students achieved the same scores. However, recent research has shown that improving accessibility and instruction delivery can help to close that gap and improve performance for a diverse student cohort.

One of the most important of such adaptations is improved access and exposure to STEM activities, followed by continuing support for those who display an interest. Relevance also stands out as a key factor, because students are more likely to respond to instruction that connects to their real-life experiences. For a diverse student body, relevant instruction must link in some way to students’ cultural backgrounds and experiences. Content should be student-focused and also apply concepts to practical problems, so that students can begin to self-identify as scientists, mathematicians, and engineers.