THE ISSUES

Teacher Assisting a Student

Equity in

Education

In the Classroom

Opportunity
Gaps

Girl in Classroom

Literacy & Achievement Gaps

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When asked during a roundtable discussion on Equity in Education how districts, schools, and classrooms can achieve equity while not reinforcing stereotypes?  Dr. Keith Bell summed it up best! “By understanding the difference between fair and equal. Those that need more should get more (fair). Don’t just give everybody the same thing as that might not be what they need to be successful. Secondly, if you don’t know the kids you teach – you may never get to ALL – know what you don’t know to become effective.” (Learning Circle Software, 2021) https://www.learningcirclesoftware.com/resources/equity-in-education/roundtable-discussion-equity-in-education/)

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What is an Opportunity Gap? The “Opportunity gap refers to inputs - the unequal or inequitable distribution of resources and opportunities” (The Glossary of Education Reform, 2013). According to Professor Kevin Welner of the University of Colorado, “Children learn when they have opportunities to learn. When denied those opportunities, they fall behind, and we get the devastating achievement gaps. But when they are provided with rich opportunities to learn, they thrive, and the achievement gaps close” (Stroud, 2017). Professor Welner’s statement links achievement directly to opportunity. He attributes the gaps that exist in achievement to lack of opportunity or denied opportunities. The Schott’s Foundation for Public Education list access to quality schools and resources as examples of the disparities that exist and contributes to the opportunity gap. The Foundation’s Opportunity to Learn Index found that students from historically underserved families have a 51% Opportunity to Learn when compared to White, non-Latino students (Schott Foundation for Public Education, 2018). 

The opportunity gap presents a more holistic approach for educators and policy makers to tackle educational inequities as it focuses on developing an understanding of issues both inside and outside of school (Flores & Gunzenhauser, 2018). It extends the dialogue to what exist or may arise outside of school. “It repositions the blame of the achievement gaps of students of color and low socioeconomic status away from the innate academic skills of students and their lack of ‘cultural’ capital.” (Flores, & Gunzenhauser, 2018) 

References:

The Glossary of Education Reform. (2013, September 3). Opportunity Gap. Retrieved from https://www.edglossary.org/opportunity-gap/

 

Schott Foundation for Public Education. (2018). Opportunity Gap Talking Points. Retrieved from http://schottfoundation.org/issues/opportunity-gap/talking-points

 

Stroud, G. (2017, November 22). Achievement Gaps Are Just the Symptom. Opportunity Gaps Are the Real Problem. Retrieved from https://educationpost.org/achievement-gaps-arejust-the-symptom-opportunity-gaps-are-the-real-problem/

 

Flores, O. J., & Gunzenhauser, M. G. (2018). Justice in the Gaps: School Leader Dispositions and the Use of Data to Address the Opportunity Gap.

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Opportunity and achievement gaps are often used interchangeably, despite the fact that they have very different meanings. Defining each term and using them in the right context will allow nonprofits to design and focus on more meaningful and impactful solutions (Brown, 2017). The achievement gap refers to any significant and persistent disparity in academic performance or educational attainment between different groups of students (The Glossary of Education Reform, 2013). Achievement gaps can be interpreted globally or locally. An example is the United States’ decline in standardized test scores in comparison to the scores of China or Japan. Locally, we often see the comparison of African-American students from schools that are underserved in Virginia and not reading proficiently to their White peers who attend schools with more resources. “The achievement gap refers to two non-overlapping groups that should be expected to have similar outcomes, but do not” (The Glossary of Education Reform, 2013).

References:

The Glossary of Education Reform. (2013, September 3). Opportunity Gap. Retrieved from https://www.edglossary.org/opportunity-gap/

Brown, K. (2017, June 6). Buzzards explained and opportunity gap vs. achievement gap. Retrieved from https://readingpartners.org/blog/buzzwords-explained-opportunity-gapvs-achievement-gap/