Are our national education-reform priorities cheating America's intellectually ablest girls and boys? Yes—and the consequence is a human-capital catastrophe for the United States. It's not as dramatic or abrupt as the fiscal cliff. But if we fail to pay attention, one day we'll be very sorry.
You don't have to search hard for evidence that teachers and school systems are neglecting gifted students.
Photo by Krissy.Venosdale
In a recent New York Times column, I explained how America could benefit from more schools and classes geared toward motivated, high-potential students. Here, I want to look more deeply at why such initiatives are unfashionable, even taboo, among today's education reformers.
We'd like to believe that every teacher can do right by every child in each classroom. But let's be serious: How many of our three million–plus teachers are up to this challenge? The typical class is profoundly diverse in ability, motivation, and prior attainment. In most cases, instructors—under added pressure from state and federal accountability regimes—end up focusing on pupils below the "proficient" line, at the expense of their high achievers.
You don't have to search hard for evidence that teachers and school systems are neglecting gifted students. Take, for instance, our longstanding failure to get more than a few percent of U.S. students scoring at or above the National Assessment's...