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U.S. Education System Ignores the Needs of Brightest Students

November 1, 2019 by Renee Fischer

Stanley Professor Jonathan Plucker says millions aren’t being challenged academically

In America, schools are simply not making the grade in terms of meeting the needs of accelerated and gifted students – in two ways, according to Jonathan Plucker, the Julian C. Stanley Endowed Professor of Talent Development at the Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth and the Johns Hopkins School of Education.

First, millions of elementary students are capable of working significantly above their grade level in reading.

“My research shows that at least 15% of American elementary students start the year three or more grade levels ahead of their grade. They enter the school year knowing pretty much everything that’s going to be taught, plus everything that’s going to be taught the next couple of grades,” according to Plucker.

“Not surprisingly, they become very, very bored in school. We just aren’t meeting their learning needs,” he says, adding there is a broad variance in grade-level knowledge in terms of mathematics as well.

Secondly, the practice of solely using national standards instead of combining these with local norms has resulted in fewer deserving students being identified for advanced educational services and consequently an excellence gap that disproportionately affects some ethnic groups, Plucker says.

“The bottom line is that educators, researchers, and policymakers need to work together to rethink traditional, outdated modes of schooling and learning to ensure every single student who comes to school is challenged every single day,” Plucker says.

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Topics: Faculty and Staff, Center for Talented Youth, School of Education, Strengthen Communities, Support Scholars