Too many students do not receive appropriately challenging curriculum and services and as a result, fail to reach their potential. This is a loss, not only for the students, but for the nation. The gaps in support of and services for our most advanced students are even more pronounced for children from disadvantaged backgrounds. As our education policy focuses nearly exclusively on grade-level achievement in an effort to close the achievement gap for struggling learners, another achievement gap has been widening.
Research on student performance on state and national tests shows that there is a growing gap at the top of the achievement scale between white students and students of color and between advanced students from low-income backgrounds and those from more advantaged circumstances. This achievement gap, dubbed the “excellence gap,” for high-ability students is especially problematic in light of the demand for a high-performing and highly skilled workforce to ensure U.S. economic competitiveness in the new global economy.
Ensuring the availability of rigorous coursework and gifted education programs and services for all students who would benefit from the challenge, combined with equitable identification procedures, would reduce the underrepresentation of diverse learners in gifted education programs and put more learners from every population in a position to increase their achievement and maximize their potential.
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