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Opportunity Gap or Achievement Gap?

  • 1.  Opportunity Gap or Achievement Gap?

    Posted 07-05-2019 04:24 PM
    "'Opportunity gap' refers to the fact that the arbitrary circumstances in which people are born-such as their race, ethnicity, ZIP code, and socioeconomic status-determine their opportunities in life, rather than all people having the chance to achieve to the best of their potential." (Read more here: https://www.teachforamerica.org/stories/why-we-say-opportunity-gap-instead-of-achievement-gap). 

    Is it the "achievement gap" or an "opportunity gap" that impacts Black children?







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    Tonya Satchell
    Columbia MD
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  • 2.  RE: Opportunity Gap or Achievement Gap?

    Posted 07-06-2019 08:20 AM
    Thank you, Tonya.  I appreciate this reframing.  It puts the responsibility, the blame, and possible solutions where it needs to be.  I see this in the differences between the well-resourced and the less-resourced child care settings.  Cambridge has begun to start to address this through a scholarship program for very low-income families that pays for childcare at a rate far above the state voucher rate. What are some things being done in other communities?

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    Aren Stone
    Child Development Specialist
    The Early Years Project
    Cambridge, MA
    she/her
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  • 3.  RE: Opportunity Gap or Achievement Gap?

    Posted 07-07-2019 07:41 AM
    It is not just about well-resourced centers or scholarship programs, although both are necessary. To me, to close the opportunity gap and thus close the achievement gap entails deeper reframing.

    The opportunity gap and the achievement gap are related and do exist. Let us not forget that all people are different but all should be capable of learning.

    I think the issue is more about deficit thinking that drives how we approach early childhood settings for children from low-income homes. There is a tendency to approach development and learning for children from very low-income families by structuring the learning environment with the idea that I know what you don't know and need and I will push it into your brain through drilling skills such as alphabet recognition and rote learning activities rather than saying to oneself that children from low-income families need what children from more wealthy families tend to get, which is more play - games and blocks but particularly imaginative pretend play, talk, stories read to them, listening to their thoughts and writing down their ideas, field trips in the neighborhood, etc. They need us, the teachers, to be there for them. We need to learn to listen to what their families are saying, their stories of life and the stresses that they are going through.

    How do we develop these alternative kinds of attitudes that I believe will provide opportunities to learn and develop for children from low-income families and thus close the achievement gap?

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    Nora Krieger, PhD
    Associate Professor Emerita/Past Chair NJEEPRE
    Bloomfield College/NJ Educators Exploring the Practices of Reggio Emilia
    Highland Park, NJ
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  • 4.  RE: Opportunity Gap or Achievement Gap?

    Posted 07-08-2019 04:34 PM
    This continues to be a crucial discussion topic, something all educators should reflect on and be mindful of in their practice. I do like the term "opportunity gap" vs. "achievement gap". Like I believe it was Nora said, that puts the blame on the overall situation rather than the learner.

    One of the major contributors to this gap is adult-child interactions. I did some research on this as well as the history of preschool programs (which from the very beginning) have been geared towards supporting the learning of children from working families and yes, less opportunities, whether that be less access to books, less opportunities to learn through play, and yes, less adult-child interactions.

    http://maestramomma.com/history-of-preschool/

    I think the blog post might have been too brainy and research-driven for my typical reader, but I would LOVE to hear thoughts from other educators and continue this discourse.

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    Annika Mehta, M.Ed., Sp.Ed.
    Owner, Story Spark
    Amarillo, TX
    maestramomma.com
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  • 5.  RE: Opportunity Gap or Achievement Gap?

    Posted 07-08-2019 07:47 PM
    Hi Nora,
    Yes! I think you are on to something there. Part of the cycle, I think, also lies in how we communicate with families. All families want the best for their children and if families think that is "abcs, 123s, dittos, and marble back notebooks" is "learning" (because that is their own frame of reference) I think it becomes easy for us to provide them with what they are expecting. Especially considering that providers are running a business and part of that means having satisfied "customers." It's much harder for providers to say, "I know that's what you want, but here is best practice..." I think part of the solution is to equip providers with tools to help families respectfully understand the value of play-based exploratory learning. This should be a community-based approach because you are right, listening to families is crucial. It's that old adage, you can't do FOR me WITHOUT me.

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    Tonya Satchell
    Columbia MD
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  • 6.  RE: Opportunity Gap or Achievement Gap?

    Posted 07-08-2019 09:20 PM
    I agree with you. We have to be respectful of the perspective and beliefs of families but we can infuse ideas about what other learning children need. They do need to learn the alphabet and recognize numbers. They need to develop their vocabularies and be exposed to the great children's books that are out there. This can easily be done while respecting what parents feel their children need.

    We need to explain the opportunities that their children will have in our centers or public schools and how these experiences will enhance their achievement.

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    Nora Krieger, PhD
    Associate Professor Emerita/Past Chair NJEEPRE
    Bloomfield College/NJ Educators Exploring the Practices of Reggio Emilia
    Highland Park, NJ
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  • 7.  RE: Opportunity Gap or Achievement Gap?

    Posted 07-06-2019 06:06 PM
    Thank you for this information.  I had read this information and it is very helpful as well educational. I had signed up for this. My community need this as well as my daycare.

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    Ms. Tamara L Red
    Owner / Provider
    Unlimited Red Expressions Licensed Home Daycare
    Danville Illinois
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  • 8.  RE: Opportunity Gap or Achievement Gap?

    Posted 07-08-2019 06:04 PM
    Thanks for the topic of 'achievement vs. opportunity' gap.
    This is where we as teachers have to try to fill in ...providing various experiences, reading and talking to kids - vocabulary and language development, and so on.
    Let's work more on this.....

    thanks again.
    Jagruti Patel
    FCC home provider

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    Jagruti Patel
    Owner/Provider
    Patel Family Child Care
    Redlands CA
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  • 9.  RE: Opportunity Gap or Achievement Gap?

    Posted 07-08-2019 07:33 PM
    Hi Jagruti,
    In addition to teachers providing experiences to the children in their programs, do you see any systematic changes that need to happen in your area (local or state) that would help address the issue?

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    Tonya Satchell
    Columbia MD
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  • 10.  RE: Opportunity Gap or Achievement Gap?

    Posted 07-08-2019 07:36 PM
    Hi Tamara,
    I'm glad you found the information helpful! Thank you for participating in our discussion. Are there any programs happening in Danville that help address this gap?

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    Tonya Satchell
    Columbia MD
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  • 11.  RE: Opportunity Gap or Achievement Gap?

    Posted 07-09-2019 09:23 AM
    Hi everyone,

    I just started working as the director of at the Early Learning Center in Provincetown, Massachusetts.

    In a prior life I served as an elementary principal in Arlington, Virginia.  While i was there I was part of a district-wide initiative called "Courageous Conversations".  The focus was to get staff (administrators and teachers) to seriously explore and discuss issues related to race and culture.  The assumption was that by honestly confronting our assumptions about race, etc.we might create conditions that could have a significant positive impact long term on the achievement gap.  Obviously, how we view differences in our children plays a significant role on how we interact with them and what we believe they can or cannot do. This initiative was tough but one that I believe was invaluable.  Has anything similar to this been explored by NAEYC or any of you?

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    Edgar Miranda
    Director of ELC
    Provincetown Schools
    Eastham MA
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  • 12.  RE: Opportunity Gap or Achievement Gap?

    Posted 07-09-2019 04:25 PM
    Hello,

    Thank you all for more information. Yes, Family child care providers do need tools and more education/trainings so that they can provide more play-based learning opportunities (and inform parents about it as general perception is that fcc providers are 'baby sitters'! - not considered at par with center teachers). I am lucky to have more educated parents and my qualifications give me more credibility in giving information to parents. Many providers struggle with that but on the other side, I feel they do provide more free play time and interact with children as we can be more spontaneous in our daily schedule.

    As for catering to diverse families and children, we have to respect and try to understand to meet with their needs - how we can support them by giving more quality time to their children and what way can they follow up at home- based on what their kids are learning in centers or fcc homes. Home visits, parent training, and daily interactions with teachers are helpful.

    This is sure a community effort - we have reading sessions at our local libraries and Resource & Referral office, they also have mobile libraries so that fcc providers and parents can borrow books and toys.

    Thank you,

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    Jagruti Patel
    Owner/Provider
    Patel Family Child Care
    Redlands CA
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