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STEM for inclusive excellence and equity

Research Findings: Educators declare their commitment to high-quality education for all children. Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) has been increasingly included as critical topics, even for young children. However, there are exceptions, especially the provision of developmentally appropriate STEM experiences to children with disabilities (CWD). In this article, we review evidence concerning this equity gap, including the importance of STEM education to CWD. We find that the early years provide an exceptional opportunity to introduce STEM, but that this potential is often left unrealized, especially for young vulnerable children, who live in poverty, are members of linguistic and ethnic minority groups, or are CWD (some with particular disabilities in STEM domains). Research also indicates the success of some educational approaches. Practice or Policy: Research and development in each of the STEM domains, as well as interdisciplinary approaches provides directions for both policy and practice. For example, both need to change to reflect importance of STEM for all young children, especially CWD, the need to change harmful beliefs, and the positive effects of approaches based on learning trajectories. We conclude with an introduction of a new center to support inclusive innovation in early education in STEM. (author abstract)
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