Mediocrity for all isn't equity
In Culver City (CA), ninth- and tenth-grade honors classes were eliminated, reports Sara Randazzo in the Wall Street Journal. Officials said "uniform courses . . . will ensure students of all races receive an equal, rigorous education.”
Schools in Manassas, Virginia took a different tack, expanding and diversifying gifted classes, reports Elizabeth Heubeck in Education Week.
Restricting opportunity masks the problem of unequal achievement, "rejects excellence and increases inequity" by harming underserved children who need a challenging education, writes Brandon L. Wright, who produces Fordham's Advance newsletter on gifted education.
While Culver City, a middle-class district in Los Angeles County, took the easy way out, Manassas worked to improve its programming, notes Wright. Anthony Vargas, the district’s supervisor of gifted and talented and advanced programs, saw the need to qualify more students from lower-income and Hispanic families for challenging classes.
Among many changes were eliminating the reliance on test scores alone to select students, showing teachers how to better identify potential, adding more educators to the program and training them, expanding offerings beyond a single elementary school, strengthening instructional programming, creating a continuum of services wherein students can receive enrichment in a single or multiple subjects, and casting a wider and more flexible net.
"In the last four years, the proportion of students in the program who come from families living in poverty jumped to 41 percent from 22 percent, and the share of Hispanic students increased to 41 percent from 26 percent," writes Huebeck. Enrollment has grown from 240 students in 2019 to 334 this year.
More students are learning more.