Neglecting the Gifted and Talented
Doesn’t PLC give attention to struggling students and emphasis on intervention result in neglecting gifted and high-achieving children?
Educators who ask this question believe that focusing attention on needy, lazy, or low-performing kids deprives more gifted students of the resources and time essential to their development. The assumption behind this thinking is that education is a zero-sum game. Schools have finite resources and energy, and therefore, addressing the needs of a particular group of students means not addressing the needs of others. For some students to win, others must lose.
We reject that assumption. The PLC model is based on the premise that all students benefit when placed in a challenging and supportive environment. The staff of a PLC attempts to create a culture that stretches all students beyond their comfort zone and then provides the support to help them be successful in meeting the challenge. Students who have become comfortable in self-contained special education classes or remedial classes are called upon to meet the challenge of the standard curriculum. Students comfortable in the standard curriculum are called upon to stretch to meet the challenges of an accelerated curriculum. Students in the most rigorous curriculum are challenged to see how far they can go in extending their learning. In a PLC, every student is urged to pursue more challenging levels of learning, and at the same time, the school assures those students will receive the additional time and support they need to be successful.
In our new book, Raising the Bar and Closing the Gap, we examined student achievement in over 35 schools that had committed to providing struggling students with additional time and support in a timely, directive, and systematic way. Every one of those schools was highly successful in moving students who had traditionally struggled to proficient status on high-stakes assessments. Furthermore, each of the schools dramatically increased the percentage of students able to achieve at advanced levels. We found absolutely no evidence that being attentive to students who experienced difficulty diminished the achievement of traditionally high-performing students and abundant evidence in every case to refute that theory.
Adapted from Raising the Bar and Closing the Gap (DuFour, DuFour, Eaker, & Karhanek)
© Solution Tree Press 2010