In the name of “proficiency”, America’s policy makers have put the excellence gap aside on the bottom of her to-do list because it’s a hassle to try to close the gap among high achievers. It’s a luxury to even dare to think that we are trying to make smart kids smarter. Common remark I hear people say is gifted learners already have enough by being gifted, so it’s time we focus on struggling learners. They say gifted learners have intelligence, money, and support from parents. Asking more of it is whining of the haves.
Well. Watch this video and let me know what you think. It’s called “Animal School”
One variable that gives a face to the excellence gap is the new emphasis on value-added scale on teacher performance which drives the teachers to invest on improving the testing scores. The culture of value-addedness leads them to focus on the low-achieving students than to raise the scores of the higher achievers. The phenomenon of the proficiency-focused agenda is driving the teachers to focus on the lower half of the class and end up using the high ability learners as the assistants, fillers, and tutors to “help” those in need in classrooms.
From an equity lens, refusing to see the needs of a wide range of gifted learners become a civil right issues, but the trouble is that the fissure between the haves and have-nots among gifted learners, particularly in the conversation around race isn’t so simple. Speaking of the excellence gap, we are talking about the deep racial disparity that begins to take shape as early as 4 to 5 year old black and brown boys and girls. This is what I found in 2013-2014 CIVIL RIGHTS DATA COLLECTION which grabbed my attention after reading an article about racial bias on CNN.
– Black public preschool children are suspended from school at high rates: Black preschool children are 3.6 times as likely to receive one or more out-of-school suspensions as white preschool children.
– Black children represent 19% of preschool enrollment, but 47% of preschool children receiving one or more out-of-school suspensions; in comparison, white children represent 41% of preschool enrollment, but 28% of preschool children receiving one or more out-of-school suspensions.
– Black boys represent 19% of male preschool enrollment, but 45% of male preschool children receiving one or more out-of-school suspensions. • Black girls represent 20% of female preschool enrollment, but 54% of female preschool children receiving one or more out-of-school suspensions.
The data reveals the aching reality of school to prison-pipeline which provides a voice and a dimension to the excellence gap. It’s partly due to the systematic racism that these young children are conditioned to feel and live that by the time the 3rd grade rolls on for nomination and screening process for gifted programs, a half of the possibly-gifted black and brown learners are already marked down to wear orange jumpsuits within a following decade. By the time these students reach middle school, there’s very little I can do to challenge the status quo.
Two days ago, I brought up the excellence gap during PLC. I shared how there’s no representation of Black gifted learners in accelerated math class. I heard what I expected to hear:
“No, there’s none in advanced math. But there’s a plenty of them in lower math”.