No Country for High Achievers

Have gifted students been ignored as the nation has focused on eliminating achievement gaps? Or do equity-focused efforts to improve teaching and learning benefit students across the board

These questions are debated by four experts in an article that will appear in the Summer 2011 issue of Education Next, “Are We Lifting All Boats Or Only Some?” an article which is now available online.

Richard Epstein and Daniel Pianko write that

The Holy Grail of educators for the past 20-plus years has been to find ways for students of different abilities and aptitudes to learn at different paces in the same classroom. Educators have developed remarkably effective methods for achieving this goal for the early grades. However, this paradigm starts to break down by the time students reach middle school. The challenges become insuperable by the time students reach high school. The difference between those students capable of doing calculus and those who are barely ready for geometry, is too dramatic for even the ablest teachers to span in one classroom. Either there is separate education, with whatever perceived stigma it might have, or students at both ends of the spectrum will languish.

Jon Schnur and Joshua Wyner write that “high-functioning education systems that pay attention to the needs of individual students serve all children well.”

Read the full debate here.

Richard A. Epstein is professor of law at New York University School of Law and senior lecturer at the University of Chicago; Daniel Pianko is a partner at University Ventures Fund; Jon Schnur is chairman of the board of New Leaders for New Schools; and Joshua Wyner is at the Aspen Institute.

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