Are We Creating the Achievement Gap? Examining How Deficit Mentalities Influence Indigenous Science Curriculum Choices

  • Jennifer Lance Atkinson
Part of the Cultural Studies of Science Education book series (CSSE, volume 3)


Chigeza and Whitehouse highlight a significant negotiation indigenous Australian children face each day at school. The bridge between different languages presents a challenge for the students to score well on standardized science assessments. Rather than truly assessing students’ knowledge of science concepts, Chigeza and Whitehouse provide a wealth of evidence, which supports that students may be tested on the mastery of standard Australian English rather than science concepts due to their home language being different than English. Chigeza and Whitehouse recommend that science educators and researchers should develop more appropriate classroom instruction to help students successfully navigate between languages when learning science. Language is highly contextual and as Chigeza and Whitehouse discuss, students are characterized by their language use. Despite their science knowledge, indigenous Australian students are deemed deficient based upon standardized testing scores because of their language.


Science Teaching Science Classroom Science Curriculum Science Standard Ecological Succession 
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Copyright information

© Springer Netherlands 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jennifer Lance Atkinson
    • 1
  1. 1.Washington-Wilkes Comprehensive High SchoolWashingtonUSA

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