The school accountability movement is leaving the nation’s most gifted students behind, according to a report released yesterday by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute.
The report, “High-Achieving Students in the Era of NCLB,” uses scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress to compare changes in the top 10 percent and the bottom 10 percent of students since the introduction of No Child Left Behind.
The good news is that NCLB seems to be making progress toward its goal of closing the “achievement gap,” states the report: In fourth-grade reading, for example, NAEP scores for the bottom tenth increased 16 points from 2000 to 2007, compared to 3 points for the top tenth.
But what does the narrowing of that gap mean for students scoring at the top of the spectrum?
“The progress of our top students has been modest at best,” said the report, noting that the focus of NCLB on bringing students to the “proficient” level might result in the neglect of gifted students who are already proficient.
“People can look at this data and say, ‘This is great news,’ and maybe that’s what our national education policy should be,” said Michael J. Petrilli, a vice president at the Fordham Institute. “But you see that the performance of the high-achieving students is languid, and the question is whether languid is going to cut it in a global economy.”