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November 22, 2008

More on the Achievement and Opportunity Gaps

The problem is that the government does not seem to know how to deal the opportunity gap, or they do not know that it exists. Jim Horn, in his blog entry “Addressing the Problem Rather Punishing the Victims: BoldApproach.org on http://schoolsmatter.blogspot.com/2008/06/addressing-problem-rather-to-punish.html, notes that “evidence demonstrates…that achievement gaps based on socioeconomic status are present before children even begin formal schooling. Despite the impressive academic gains registered by some schools serving disadvantaged students, there is no evidence that school improvement strategies by themselves can close these gaps in a substantial, consistent, and sustainable manner” (Horn 1).* Therefore, there is something beyond classrooms that may contribute to the problem. Schools cannot improve the situation because all of the policies that try to improve the system are aimed at fixing the problem are designed to address the achievement gap.

What Horn describes, and what is really going on, is the opportunity gap. Children start off on different levels to begin with. Children who grow up in a trailer part are not going to have the same experiences as those who grow up in a mansion. They are going to have different backgrounds, different ways of understanding and learning, and different access to resources.

How are students from low socioeconomic backgrounds supposed to compete on standardized tests with students who have Smartboard Technology in every classroom, private tutors, and enough money to take the SAT’s three different times to improve scores? How can we ask students to compete if we do not give them the resources to compete and succeed? Therefore, I think it is absolutely vital to address the opportunity gap before addressing the achievement gap. If students have the same resources, we will probably observe a more evident change in achievement scores. This is just one reason why No Child Left Behind alone cannot solve the education problem.
Thanks for reading!


* Quote taken from Jim Horn’s Blog http://schoolsmatter.blogspot.com/2008/06/addressing-problem-rather-to-punish.html on November 16, 2008.

Posted by ksackett at November 22, 2008 05:44 PM

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