Excerpt from the Washington Post, Dec 15th, 2011 — opinion piece titled Closing the achievement gap, but at gifted students’ expense, by Michael J. Petrilli and and Frederick M. Hess
In September , the president offered states and school districts flexibility around onerous provisions of the No Child Left Behind Act — linked to certain conditions. Among these: States must explain how they are going to move more students into “challenging” courses. The effect will be yet another push to dilute high-level classes.
The goal of helping more young people succeed in challenging coursework is laudable. But pushing ill-prepared students into tougher classes without adequate preparation isn’t doing anyone any favors.
In 2008, six years after No Child Left Behind became law, a survey of teachers found 60 percent saying that struggling students were a “top priority” at their schools, while just 23 percent said the same of “academically advanced” students. Eighty percent said that struggling students were most likely to get one-on-one attention from teachers; only 5 percent said the same of advanced students.