Delaware Online: JKCF Discusses The Excellence Gap In Delaware

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Don’t forget talented, lower-income students

By Harold O. Levy

As one of the first two states and just 11 overall to be awarded a “Race to the Top” grant by the U.S. Department of Education, Delaware’s public schools have transformed in the past five years.

But the reforms implemented under the $119 million plan have been directed at closing the achievement gap – helping struggling students from disadvantaged backgrounds achieve minimum proficiency, boosting graduation rates, and so on – which has been the case for decades now. However, not a penny has gone toward narrowing the excellence gap – the measurable difference between lower-income and higher-income students who reach advanced levels on standardized tests, despite having tested to have comparable abilities.

We shouldn’t be surprised, then, that a groundbreaking new study called Equal Talents, Unequal Opportunities: A Report Card on State Support for Academically Talented Low-Income Students has found that Delaware is dramatically failing its most gifted students.

The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation systematically examined state-level policies related to academic excellence in order to grade each state’s support for its talented but economically vulnerable students. Delaware was one of only three states to receive an “F.” Grades were also given for the advanced-level performance of each state’s low-income students; Delaware received a “D-” by that measure, the lowest of any state in the country.

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