Inspired by the Oscar-nominated movie “Hidden Figures” the National Assessment Governing Board decided to explore recent results from The Nation’s Report Card— also known as the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP)—to discover the opportunities and interest of young black women in STEM. The Nation’s Report Card gathers information on contextual data both in and out of the classroom that may be critical to achievement, which can be used to improve STEM education for all.
Through their research, the NAEP discovered that young African-American women who already had an interest in science scored 13 points higher on average on the NAEP science exam when compared to other students. However, many of these budding scientists do not believe that careers in STEM are a possibility for them. Introducing role models such as Mae Jemison, the first African-American woman to go to space, or Katherine Johnson, Mary Jackson and Dorothy Vaughan of “Hidden Figures” is a great way to show them the possibilities out there for them.
The NAEP also found that black girls who frequently discuss what they learn in school at home are more likely to perform better on the NAEP mathematics exam. Whether it’s around the dinner table or on the car ride home, take the time to ask your child what they learned in the classroom that day.
Teach your child how to do handiwork.
Students who know how to use tools or materials to fix something scored 19 points higher on the NAEP Technology and Engineering Literacy Exam. Teach your child how to change a tire, fix a leaky faucet, or repair drywall. Not only will they be learning useful life skills, but also increasing their interests in STEM activities.
Want to learn more about NAEP and their findings on black girls in STEM? Read the full report here: Black Girls in STEM
Kayla Hewitt is a contributing writer for Our Children Magazine.