I've been enjoying the print media's and blogosphere's reactions to our new report, High-Achieving Students in the Era of NCLB. Most of the commentary is entirely predictable. For instance, the Education Trust expresses discomfort with us even raising the issue. From this morning's New York Times story:
Amy Wilkins, a vice president at Education Trust, which lobbies for policies to help close the achievement gap, said the gains by low achievers should be applauded. "My concern is that this report makes it seem like we have to choose between seeking equity and excellence," she said. "We need to strive for both."
Susan Traiman, the Business Roundtable's education policy director, goes a bit further:
We're producing progress at the bottom, and we need to maintain that," Ms. Traiman said, "but we need to ratchet up the performance of students at every achievement level if we're going to be competitive."
That's exactly right. But the award for truth-telling goes to Eduwonk Andy, who acknowledges that educators, at least, have to make difficult choices about how to allocate their time and attention.
There is also a belief that schools can do everything at once: That they can close achievement gaps, raise overall achievement, stretch high performing students and help struggling ones all at the same time. As Rick Hess and I wrote in PDK in 2007 all of these pressures create an untenable situation for educators.
We put this directly to...