Reducing Gaps so Gifted Children Can Thrive
Four gaps persist and get in the way of children and young people with gifts and talents reaching their potential. These four gaps are the Belief Gap, Opportunity Gap, Achievement Gap, and Excellence Gap.
Unless educators believe that children from lower income families, twice-exceptional children, and children from all ethnic and racial groups can achieve at advanced levels, it is unlikely that they will see their behaviors as evidence they have that potential. Professional learning opportunities are needed to encourage educators to look beyond stereotypes of children with exceptional potential and implement strategies that allow children to make continuous progress and achieve at levels without boundaries unnecessarily set by age and grade.
The Belief Gap is followed by the Opportunity Gap. Unless opportunities are offered and made realistic with funding and transportation, some children with exceptional potential will not have opportunities that would have been important for furthering their interests and developing their talents. Opportunities shape the future for children and young people.
In addition, gaps for achieving at proficient and advanced levels exist in the United States and perhaps elsewhere. The first of the achievement gaps is at the level of proficiency or grade-level achievement. The key question leading to an Achievement Gap addresses whether children who are from lower-income families, twice exceptional children, and children from all ethnic and racial groups are achieving at grade level.
The Excellence Gap parallels the Achievement Gap but with achievement at advanced levels. Having schools and classrooms in which all children with the potential to do so can achieve at advanced levels provides the foundation of a school with no Excellence Gap.
1. Remove blinders that get in the way of teachers recognizing the high potential of children.
2. Provide opportunities for children who are ready to learn at higher levels and not waiting until all children are ready.
3. Communicate to children and families concerning opportunities in school and out of school as well as about sources of support that may be needed to take advantage of the opportunity.
4. Examine achievement data in schools in order to know if children who are from lower-income families, those who are twice exceptional, and young people from all ethnic and racial groups are achieving at grade level or, even better, at the advanced level.
Removing the four gaps – Belief, Opportunity, Achievement, and Excellence – is key to providing education in which children thrive in school. Let’s work together to make the gaps disappear where they are present in classrooms and schools!