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Gary Thornock's Weblog » Achievement gap
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28th Dec, 2005

Achievement gap


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Steve Urquhart has a good article about the achievement gap in education, and why closing it (by NCLB, in this instance) is a bad idea. He refers to another article at the Deseret News that offers more illustration of the same idea. From that article:

All schools need to do, [Utah Rep. Margaret] Dayton says, is make tests so easy that all students pass or to make tests so difficult that all students fail. If students are tested on material appropriate for the grade, however, there will always be some students who do not perform well on the standardized tests, said Dayton[.]

I've written on this subject before. I said then, and I still maintain, that the notion that "one size fits all" is one of the most damaging fallacies that can occur in education. Certainly there is a need to ensure that good education is available to all students, and that particular goal of NCLB is laudable. Closing the "achievement gap", however, is a terrible idea that won't help achieve that goal. Rather, it will hold back the students at the top, such that, overall, everyone accomplishes less.

At the risk of repeating myself: One size does not fit all, and trying to shoehorn all students into a single ill-fitting program is a recipe for disaster. What is needed, rather, is an educational system with the flexibility (and, yes, the funding) to allow and encourage every student to succeed to the best of his or her ability.

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