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From the Editor's Desk

Equity in the Science Classroom

Science Scope—May/June 2022 (Volume 45, Issue 5)

By Patty McGinnis

Despite advances in science education, there remains an opportunity gap; historically underperforming populations often opt out of advanced courses and are not equitably represented in the STEM fields (Shea 2015). As teachers, we are tasked with closing this gap through practices that allow all students to succeed and thrive. Achieving this is a tall order, yet the vision of the Framework (NGSS Lead States 2013) emphasizes that all students can learn and be successful in science.

Being mindful of attending to equity requires us to be purposeful in our teaching by incorporating practices that support all learners. By engaging students in puzzling phenomena, they are able to make sense of ideas through modeling and discussion. It’s important to recognize, however, that sensemaking may be diverse (Bell and Bang 2015), so allow students to communicate using their native or informal cultural language (Fink 2020). Additionally, attending to equitable sensemaking is critical in order to encourage the voices of everyone, rather than those of the dominant students. Practice Brief 47 from STEM Teaching Tools (Miller, Simani, and Debarger 2017) has excellent ideas for promoting equitable sensemaking, but the major idea is to create a classroom in which the voices of all students are cultivated and valued.

Perhaps one of the best ways to establish an equitable classroom is to tap into the funds of knowledge each student brings with them. Help students make connections between home and school by connecting content to the local community and home cultures (California Science Teachers Association 2019). Above all else, maintain high standards for all students as you move toward a more student-centered classroom in which your students are expected to grow and succeed with appropriate scaffolding.

Consciously implementing practices that foster an equitable classroom takes time and energy, but the payoff is great. To learn more about equitable practices, pursue the articles cited in this editorial and be sure to read this issue of Science Scope!


Bell, P., and M. Bang. 2015. Practice Brief 15: How can we promote equity in science? STEM Teaching Tools.

California Science Teachers Association. 2019. Equitable access to science education in California.

Fink, K. 2020, January 28. Building equity in the science classroom [Web blog post].

Miller, E., M. Simani, M., and A. Debarger. 2017. Practice Brief 47: How can I promote equitable sensemaking by setting expectations for multiple perspectives?

NGSS Lead States. 2013. Next Generation Science Standards: For states, by states. Washington, DC: National Academies Press.

Shea, M.. 2015. Equity in science education. Research and Practice Collaboratory.

Patty McGinnis is an instructional coach and veteran middle school teacher. You can contact her at or on Twitter: @patty_mcginnis.

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