Black Girls as Learners and Doers of Science: A Single-Group Summary of Elementary Science Achievement

Jemimah Lea Young, Kelly K Feille, Jamaal Rashad Young


Black girls represent a unique subpopulation of science learners. Black girls are unique because they consistently outperform Black boys in science. Despite this trend, Black girls often face dual marginalization in STEM classrooms and professions. Racial and gender marginalization can inhibit the success of Black girls in science if researchers, teachers and parents do not address the most salient factors. This exploratory analysis investigates how the specialized science content knowledge of Black girls is differentiated on the NAEP and how the dispositions, opportunities to learn, and parental involvement mechanisms are characterized by the NAEP assessment data. This within-group, content-specific analysis identifies teaching and learning strengths and weaknesses for Black girls that are difficult to assess using between-group designs. This study offers educators, researchers, and parents a holistic view of the performance profile of Black girls, as learners and doers of science. The results indicate that Black girls possess a basic understanding in life and physical sciences, however earth science remains the greatest challenge. Overall, the data shows that Black girls have a positive academic disposition towards science, yet are not engaged with the content. Recommendations for, researchers, teachers, parents and other educational stakeholders to further meet the needs of Black girls in science are provided.


Black girls; science; NAEP; achievement; elementary

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