What is the achievement gap and why we should close it

The achievement gap, also known as the achievement gap, is a measure that addresses the disparity in achievement that exists between groups of students. This is not an isolated measure, but rather a persistent and conspicuous measure that is evident between different groups of students. The groups observed are often formed from factors related to the color of the skin, which is very common especially in the United States, or with the income level of the student’s family, something also common in some private schools of all the world. However, this last aspect could be more related to the opportunity gap than to the achievement gap.

Many teachers agree that the achievement gap should be eliminated from those educational systems in which it is implemented, since it labels children as more and less intelligent and valid based on subjective and class criteria, and distances us from the idea of a future full of inclusive classrooms as well as the concept of equal opportunities for all people regardless of their race, gender or economic level.


Why close the achievement gap

In the first place, because it can have an erroneous origin based on theories that have become obsolete and that lend themselves to many confusions when classifying students, such as the fact of thinking that because a child has been raised in a slum will be unable to meet the basic academic goals prevailing in the educational system.

Second, because it promotes ineffective solutions related to interventions and programs that do not eliminate the root problem. This root problem is related to the beliefs, many times wrong, that we teachers themselves have. Beliefs that are gradually converted into behaviors or measures that lead to increasing this supposed achievement gap instead of reducing it, such as educational support groups previously called “diversification groups”, which often tended to convert these students in isolated and marginal groups within the school itself . The debate is on the table… is there really an achievement gap? Should we remove it, if so?




What is the belief gap

The belief gap is a concept that has its origin in an experiment carried out by Professor Robert Rosenthal of Harvard University in 1964. The professor randomly chose students from the San Francisco school to relate the expectations of the teachers with student performance. He chose a group of students entirely at random and told the teachers that those students had significant growing IQs. Then, he tracked teachers and student performance for two years. After those years, these students ended up with a higher score than the students who were not indicated in the intelligence tests.

What happened? The reality is that they were students who received the most attention from their teachers , neither more nor less. They were given more time to answer questions, they had greater acceptance by their teachers, an environment with favoritism towards students developed … And this demonstrated the power of belief in the other and gave rise to what is called the gap of belief .

Is this what happens to students who are classified from the beginning as “good students” or “bad students”? Giving the same “belief” to all students could reduce the differences in academic results?

Without a doubt, an interesting question for a very important reflection.


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