The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) are explicitly designed with equity and diversity in mind. I fear, however, that in places where NGSS implementation is being rushed (Let’s just “plug in” our new standards) that the critical focus on equity and diversity might get lost. A Framework for K-12 Science Education and the NGSS call out equity as a pivotal issue in K-12 science education that we must wrestle with. But what do we mean by equity? Skim the text box below from the Framework and see how many different definitions you can find for equity.
A Framework for K-12 Science Education (The foundational document of NGSS) states:
WHAT IS EQUITY? (BOX 11-1)
The term “equity” has been used in different ways by different communities of researchers and educators. Equity as an expression of socially enlightened self-interest is reflected in calls to invest in the science and engineering education of underrepresented groups simply because American labor needs can no longer be met by recruiting among the traditional populations. Equity as an expression of social justice is manifested in calls to remedy the injustices visited on entire groups of American society that in the past have been underserved by their schools and have thereby suffered severely limited prospects of high-prestige careers in science and engineering. Other notions of equity are expressed throughout the education literature; all are based on the commonsense idea of fairness—what is inequitable is unfair. Fairness is sometimes considered to mean offering equal opportunity to all. The most commonly used definition of equity, as influenced by the U.S. Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education (1954, 1955) and Lau v. Nichols (1974), frames equity in terms of equal treatment of all.
I highly recommend that everyone reads chapter 11 from the Framework on Equity and Diversity in Science Education. It is imperative that every student in the United States understands the core ideas of science, engages in the critical thinking of real scientists and engineers and uses the intellectual tools of the crosscutting concepts to make sense of the natural world.
I’ll be sharing some of my favorite tools on Equity and Diversity in the coming weeks but you may want to peruse this resource from STEM Teaching Tools– a brief titled- How can we promote equity in science education?