Among High School Seniors, Interest in Science Varies by Race, Ethnicity

Monica Anderson, Pew Research, January 4, 2017

A majority of high school seniors in the U.S. say they enjoy science and around four-in-ten (44%) would like to have a job in the field, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of the 2015 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). These sentiments, however, tend to vary by race and ethnicity—a pattern that also is reflected in American students’ test scores in science.

Overall, 71% of 12th-grade students agree with the statement, “I like science.” While majorities of all major racial and ethnic groups report having a fondness for science, Asian and Pacific Islander high school seniors are the most likely group to say this, while blacks are the least.

Similar racial and ethnic differences emerge when 12th-graders are asked whether they want a career in science. {snip}

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It’s worth noting that students’ fondness of science can be affected by many factors that are often interconnected with race and ethnicity. Those who voice a greater interest in the subject and a desire to work in the field tend to have higher science scores. Parental involvement, as well as a parents’ level of educational attainment, may be linked to how well children do on science assessments. And the availability of advanced science courses and socioeconomic factors also may play a role in cultivating a student’s interest and understanding of science.

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