Center for Evaluation and Education Policy (CEEP) CEEP promotes and supports rigorous program evaluation and nonpartisan policy research primarily, but not exclusively, for education, human service and non-profit organizations. In the area of K-12 education policy, CEEP’s mission is to help inform, influence and shape sound policy through effective, nonpartisan research and analysis. For more information about CEEP, go to: http://ceep.indiana.edu http://ceep.indiana.edu 3
What is the Excellence Gap? There has been a lot of focus on minimum competency achievement gaps –the overall average gaps at low to medium levels of performance between demographic groups Comparatively little attention to gaps in performance among high ability students –In a good educational system we should see both equity AND excellence –Plenty of evidence this can happen 4
Recent Fordham Study 57% of 90 th percentile students in ES/MS math (G3-G8) stayed “high fliers” using NWEA data. As did 56% in reading. At MS/HS level, 70% were “high fliers” throughout the study in math, 52% in reading. Students moved from the 50 th -89 th percentiles into the High Flier range more often than students dropped down. Growth was similar for all achievement groups, except for slower growth in reading for the High Fliers See edexcellence.net 5
Why Should We Care? Life prospects of students from disadvantaged backgrounds International Competitiveness Equity of the Educational System –Shouldn’t there be roughly the same percentage of high-performing students from every background? Is minimum competency really enough? 6
A Widening Excellence Gap TIMSS may be a better international assessment on which to base policy, since it samples by grade and not age and is similar in many ways to NAEP. Both in absolute and relative terms, it is clear the U.S. is at a huge disadvantage. 45%! Not 45%!
Measuring the Excellence Gap Percent Scoring at the Highest Level For example … Free and Reduced Lunch (FARM) : 6% Advanced Non-Free and Reduced Lunch (Non-FARM) : 15% Advanced 15% - 6% = Excellence Gap of 9% Can also measure using scores at a given high percentile, say the student at the 90th percentile (better for statistical reasons when tracking trends) 8
2009 NAEP Math Results In both Grade 4 and 8, a much smaller percentage of low- income, minority, and English- Language learner students score at the “Advanced” level on the NAEP 9
2009 NAEP Reading Results There are also large excellence gaps in Reading for FARM, Black, Hispanic, and ELL students 10
Summary of 2009 NAEP There are large gaps in the advanced achievement of under- represented groups relative to their peers on multiple assessments Race/Ethnicity Socioeconomic Status English Language Learners These populations are growing as a share of all students These high potential students cannot “take care of themselves.” 11
Trends Using the NAEP you can track progress since at least 2003 (since the passage of NCLB) The best method is to look at the differences in performance among students at the 90 th percentile. The scenario we want is for all groups to be experiencing growth, but for underperforming populations to improve faster. 12
% Advanced in Math Grade 4 13 NCLB BAD GOOD NOT GREAT APOCALYPTICALLY BAD EMBARRASSINGLY HORRIBLE
Long-Term Trends in the Excellence Gap If we go back before the passage of NCLB, there isn’t much evidence that the gaps are shrinking In 2009 the numbers for ELL students were especially discouraging, giving back most if not all previous gains over the last dozen years. 14
NAEP Math Grade 4 Gap Trends 15 Roughly 2-3 grade levels.
Other Signs of Low Performance Even if we didn’t care about gaps, there is still a major problem with the performance of even the highest-achieving students from disadvantaged groups The top 10% of low income and minority students are still well below the Advanced cut score 18
Worse Than It Looks In many cases there has been very little change in overall performance Some gaps have shrunk because white or non-FARM scores have declined At the present rate, it would take decades (if ever) for the gaps to close. 20
A Distinct Problem The Excellence Gap is not the same phenomenon as the achievement gap Although achievement gaps are somewhat larger than excellence gaps, there are also closing more quickly and consistently This is especially true for lower-income students during the NCLB era (not that we’d call the rate achievement gaps are closing fast) 21
Achievement vs. Excellence Gaps, FARM students 2003-2009 22 Rising tide?
A Complicated Story Focusing on race or income in isolation can give a misleading picture –Interaction of race & income –Changes in composition For example the decline in Reading Grade 8 scores among White and FARM students since 2003 is almost entirely due to lower scores among lower-income Whites. 23
Reading G8 90 th Percentile Trends 24 Poor white students performing at similar levels to not-poor Hispanic and Black students ()
More Evidence for the Excellence Gap 25 Not “underrepresented”
What About Colorado? Like the rest of the U.S., Colorado has substantial achievement gaps among advanced students … … but better than average absolute performance 26
CO NAEP Percent Advanced in Reading Grade 4 - 2009 27 Good! Not so good
What are States Doing? Although some states have adopted a mandate to identify and serve gifted students and have appropriated money to do so: –Gifted education funds are very vulnerable due to the fiscal climate –Most gifted education funding and policy is still carried out at the state level, with a major effect on equity –There is no evidence that ANY state has figured out a way to address Excellence Gaps, and many states have laughably low criteria for what constitutes an Advanced student 40
Leadership Breakfast Questions What have you done to address the needs of high ability students? What have you done to move more students into the advanced category? What are some things you could try to address the presence of excellence gaps? What are the biggest impediments to you doing something about excellence gaps tomorrow? 42
Recommendation #1 Make Closing the Excellence Gap a State and National Priority –Expose people to the data –That which is not visible is by definition invisible. –Stop pretending the U.S. is “post-racial” or “beyond class distinctions” Much criticism of G/T programs is deserved. 43
Recommendation #2 Policymakers and educators should ask two questions: –How will this impact advanced students? –How will this help more students perform at advanced levels? 44
Recommendations #3 and #4 Acknowledge That Both Minimum Competency and Excellence Can be Addressed At the Same Time –Other countries acknowledge this, why can’t we? Set Realistic Goal to Shrink Gaps –We’re not getting every subgroup to 10% advanced in every content area any time soon. 45
Recommendations #5 and #6 Determine the Appropriate Mix of Federal, State, Local Policies and Interventions –Federal mandate probably not a good thing –Federal research role probably a very good thing Use things that we know work well –Grouping, acceleration, identification PD 46
Recommendations #7, #8, and #9 Include the Performance of Advanced Students in Discussions of Common Standards Address the “Low-Hanging Policy Fruit” Immediately –Early graduation and financial aid Conduct More Research on Advanced Learning and Talent Development –How to address stereotype threat? 47
Excessively Provocative Closing Thought There is no natural advocacy group for advanced students. 48 Congressional aide example.