Irish complaint: Colleges neglect top students

Ireland’s focus on sending disadvantaged, disabled and older students to college is pushing top students to study abroad, charges Michael Murphy, president of University College Cork, reports the Irish Examiner.  In order to widen access, colleges have diverted resources from the most talented students, Murphy told business leaders in Cork.

Dr. Murphy admitted: “It has become unpopular, indeed politically incorrect, to voice concerns about the needs of academically talented students.”

. . .  the universities’ ability to maximise the talents of the intellectually gifted has diminished as expanding higher education has brought weaker students who need more academic support from fewer staff.

“There is extensive anecdotal evidence of many of our brightest students emigrating after completing Leaving Certificate for overseas education and never returning,” he said.

While college enrollment increased 15 percent in the last three years, colleges and universities have 10 percent fewer academic staff and 9 percent less funding, he said.

Via Lessons From Abroad.

Room for improvement at the top?

Are top students getting short shrift?  Room for Debate looks at Fordham’s study on high flyers.

Differentiation works for all learners, if it’s done well, argues Carol Tomlinson, a Univeristy of Virginia education professor.  In the comments, teachers and parents say it’s nearly impossible to differentiate well when the class includes a wide range of performance levels plus disruptive and special-needs students.

Many achievers lose their edge

Do High Flyers Maintain Their Altitude?  Thirty to 50 percent of America’s best students slide in later grades, according to a new Fordham study.  “High flyers” often fail to improve their reading ability at the same rate as their classmates.

Researchers followed more than 120,000 students in 1,500 schools nationwide, looking at progress in math and reading from third to eighth grade in one cohort, and from sixth to tenth grade in another. Top students started at or above the 90th percentile.

“If America is to remain internationally competitive, secure and prosperous,” said Chester E. Finn, Jr., Fordham’s president, “we need to maximize the potential of all our children, including those at the top of the class. Today’s policy debate largely ignores this ‘talented tenth.’

The study also looked at students who ranked in the top 10 percent of their classes at high-poverty schools, even though many were not at the 90th percentile nationwide. High flyers at high-poverty schools made similar academic progress to those at low-poverty schools.

Distressing, but not surprising, responds Rick Hess.