Despite signs of progress, state policies nationwide are falling short in supporting the needs of high-ability students with financial need, a report from the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation finds.
The report, Equal Talents, Unequal Opportunities, Second Edition (58 pages, PDF), a follow-up to the first edition published in 2015, measures the extent to which states are addressing the needs of high-ability students from low- and moderate-income backgrounds. The report assessed states on two measures: excellence, defined by the extent to which states achieve advanced learning outcomes for all students; and the closing of excellence gaps, determined by the degree to which low-income students are equally likely to achieve high levels of academic excellence as other students. According to the report, fourteen states received a grade of a B or better for their work supporting excellence, while no state received a B or better for closing excellence gaps.
With the goal of addressing both issues, the report recommends that states maximize their efforts to identify students in a position to receive advanced learning opportunities; ensure that all high-ability students have access to advanced educational services; address barriers that prevent high-ability students from moving through coursework at a pace that matches their achievement level; hold local education agencies (LEAs) accountable for the performance of high-ability students from all economic backgrounds; and create comprehensive talent development plans that help guide advanced students through their educational careers from kindergarten through high school.
"Year after year, in every state and community in our nation, students from families with financial need are less likely than their peers to reach advanced levels of academic performance, even when demonstrating the potential to do so," said Cooke Foundation executive director Harold O. Levy. "Our country needs to develop every child’s talent to their full potential. To do so, we must start by ensuring that all students have access to advanced educational offerings."
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