New Perspectives in Science Education

Edition 13

Accepted Abstracts

Closing the STEM Achievement Gap from a Unified Global Perspective

Julia V. Clark, National Science Foundation (United States)


One of the most troubling problems facing education in the schools today is the achievement gap-- the observed disparity on a number of educational measures in academic performance between different groups of students, especially groups defined by race/ethnicity, gender, and socioeconomic status. In the U.S, achievement gap is typically used to describe the disparity in test scores between minorities, usually between (1) Blacks and Hispanics and (2) their White and Asian peers. Similar gaps exist more broadly between high-poverty students and their more wealthy counterparts.

The achievement gap in education is not unique to the U. S.  Across the globe, in both rich and poor nations, a wide achievement gap among various groups of students is common, and has become a focal point of education reform efforts.  These countries struggle with educational and social-mobility gaps that divide members of disadvantaged groups from their more privileged peers.  Research conducted on achievement gap conducted around the world (Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, UK, Korea, Mexico, Singapore, South Africa, Turkey, and the U.S  (Clark, 2014), shows inequity in access to qualified teachers, facilities, resources, challenging mathematics and science curricula, and opportunities, all contribute to the achievement gap in mathematics and science  From country to country, the severity of the deprivation and the size of the gap between advantaged and disadvantaged groups vary greatly from culture to culture. Unique education models to meet the demands of their students have been developed and implemented.  Policies regarding teacher qualifications and curriculum vary from country-to-country, resulting in differences in access to high-quality teachers and higher-level mathematics and science courses.

Research shows how students’ data correlated with classroom practices, teacher instruction, and academic programming, as part of efforts toward measuring growth. Qualitative and quantitative data provide evidence of not only of the problem, but also for the solution. Some school districts have shown that all students--regardless of race, ethnicity, income, and background--can achieve at high levels when provided with the appropriate opportunities.  


[1] Clark, Julia V. 1996. Redirecting Science Education: Reform for a Culturally Diverse Classroom, Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press, Inc.
[2] Clark, Julia V.  2014 Closing the Achievement Gap from an International Perspective: Transforming STEM for Effective Education.  Springer Dordrecht Heidelberg London New York

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