While “No child left behind” laws and other incentives have helped to ensure that students are held to certain standards based on their grade levels, many parents have become concerned that there is not enough being done to challenge advanced students. While lower achievers may receive extra attention and help to reach the standards in place, there is little in the way of extra attention being paid to students that do meet the standards to push them to excel. Even less is being done to cater to “gifted” students in order to push them to even higher levels.
Effort to Close the Gap
With limited funds and a drought of good teachers, many schools find it difficult to go beyond closing the gap between low performers and adequate performers. Adequate students and high performing students are mostly neglected, while teachers struggle to help low performers meet standards. This disparity has shown to be even greater in schools in lower income districts, where students depend more on the school system to spot them and develop talents.
Testing for Achievement
In many countries, students are tested in third or fourth grade for academic ability and the classes are decided based on the results. In the United States, students are tested in third grade, but little is usually done to cater to individual abilities. Segregation of students based on performance is shunned more in the U.S. than many other countries, but attempting to educate students of differing abilities in the same classroom using the same methods may actually be holding students back.
Talented and Gifted Programs
One idea that has shown to have some effectiveness is to allow higher achieving students to take classes separate from the rest of the class several times a week. “Talented and gifted” programs and similar programs allow students to get away for a while and follow endeavors that are more personalized. The classes are often less structured and allow more free thought, so the programs feel like a reward to the students and encourage interests and talents that vary from the main stream.