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Journal of Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering
SJR: 0.468 SNIP: 0.905 CiteScore™: 1.65

ISSN Print: 1072-8325
ISSN Online: 1940-431X

Journal of Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering

DOI: 10.1615/JWomenMinorScienEng.v1.i3.40
pages 221-236

RACIAL/ETHNIC AND GENDER DIFFERENCES IN SCIENCE ACHIEVEMENT OF NINE-, THIRTEEN-, AND SEVENTEEN-YEAR OLD STUDENTS

Barbara A. Bruschi
Educational Testing Service, Princeton, New Jersey 08541
Bernice Taylor Anderson
National Science Foundation, 4201 Wilson Blvd., Suite 855, Arlington, VA 22230

ABSTRACT

Low achievement in science is evidenced by poor performance on large-scale assessments, particularly by students of certain racial/ethnic groups. Although African-American and Hispanic students have experienced substantial increases in science performance, there is still a large disparity between these minority and majority students on science achievement tests. This is true for females as well. This study examines science achievement for similarities and differences by gender and race/ethnicity. Using the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) science proficiency data for 1990, this study focuses on students' average proficiency scores in four science content areas. The assessments involved nationally representative samples of 9-, 13-, and 17-year-old African-American, Hispanic, and white students. When comparing across age groups, gender differences became more apparent. Nine-year-old females and males performed similarly in life and physical sciences. However, males gained the advantage by age 13 and widened their advantage by age 17. Males outperformed females across age groups for earth and space sciences. Females were favored in nature of sciences across age groups. By race, there were differences between and among the three racial groups studied. White students outperformed Hispanic students across content areas and age groups by between 26 and 35 points. The largest gap in mean proficiency scores was evidenced between white and African-American students, widening to the highest—nearly 55 points—difference across areas by age 17. When examining race by gender, females who tended to perform similar to or better than males at age 9 in certain areas, maintained or lost their advantage by ages 13 and/or 17. Males who had an advantage in certain areas tended to gain or widen their advantage by ages 13 and 17.


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