By Siri Doddapaneni
Inequality and un-inclusiveness are just a couple of the most prominent troubles plaguing our communities today. From discriminating based on gender, sexuality, race, and much more, inequality is still a raging wildfire that gets fueled every day. However, now, instead of the fire of un-inclusiveness, with the advancement and technology of the 21st century, the focus has turned to inclusivity in STEM classes in schools to fuel bright and hardworking students towards STEM fields.
A report by The Education Trust found that 2 in 5 Black and Latino students said they wanted to go to college and pursue higher education in the STEM field, but only 3% of these students were enrolled in Advanced Placement STEM classes. This systemic barrier between Black and Latino students and the STEM field was researched by Allison Rose Socol, a researcher on the report, who explained that students were more likely to enroll in STEM classes if they felt they belonged there, deriving that the issue is partly because of school climate. “Certainly we need to focus on changing the enrollment policy,” said Socol, “[b]ut we need to focus also on the experiences that Black and Latino students are having in school and invest in creating positive school climates where students have positive relationships, where they feel like they’re being held to high expectations, and where they feel seen and feel like they belong in those AP courses.”
Woodbridge High School in Irvine, CA, allowed students to take added courses that better prepared all students for AP courses. Although because the courses were still predominantly white and Asian, trusted professionals were hired to empower students and regular check-ins were established which led to 70-100 new students enrolling in AP courses a year. Another Californian high school, Pinole Valley High School, offers an IB program instead of AP courses. The predominantly Latino school provides more rigorous course offerings through this program and allows students to graduate with a high school and IB diploma.
The College Board, which runs the AP program, launched the AP Computer Science Principles course in 2016 that “covers foundational concepts of computer science and challenges students to explore how computing and technology can impact the world.” The program was designed to bring more Black, Latino, and female students into STEM. Trevor Packer, head of the AP program, stated that “over the last 5 years, AP CSP participation by underrepresented minorities has more than doubled,” and “for 2022, Black students have registered for 27 percent more AP science exams than they took in 2021, Hispanic/Latino students for 16 percent more, white students for 6 percent more and Asian students for 4 percent more.”
The George Lucas Educational Foundation, a non-profit that dedicates itself to creating equal educational opportunities for students, outlines 3 ways to make STEM classrooms more inclusive:
Reflect on who they are: Surround students with images of successful STEM professionals who look like them to encourage them that they can accomplish the same
Elevate their voices: Encourage debates and discussions rather than arguments. Seek input from students on STEM problems they can solve in their communities and involve them in hands-on projects.
Leverage their experiences: Science demands students’ action and participation. Provide students with experiences to make learning come alive.
“About Us | Edutopia.” Edutopia, 2017, www.edutopia.org/about.
Najarro, Ileana. “How to Make AP STEM Classes More Diverse and Inclusive.” Education
Week, 21 Apr. 2022, www.edweek.org/teaching-learning/how-to-make-ap-stem-
Smalls, Jackie. “4 Ways to Make STEM Classrooms More Inclusive.” Edutopia, 25 Feb. 2022,