Grade-appropriate assignments, strong instruction, deep engagement, and teachers with high expectations: all important factors for a child’s learning, and all lacking in many classrooms, according to a new report by TNTP. In The Opportunity Myth, TNTP researchers take a close look inside the classroom through the perspective of students to figure out how so many students are leaving high school unprepared for college and career. According to the report, many barriers to student success are factors that schools control.
TNTP partnered with five districts to collect data and insight from students and teachers. This included real-time surveys of students during school, observing lessons, reviewing assignments and student work samples. Their analysis found that many students were not leaving high school prepared for the next step because they spent too much time working on assignments below grade level, did not have engaging classroom time, and were not challenged to achieve high expectations.
In conclusion, the report calls out actions that perpetuate the Opportunity Myth—the idea that success in school will lead to success later in life. TNTP calls for all adults that make decisions that impact children in schools to commit to defeating this myth, and provides five recommended actions to do so
- Ask students and families directly about their goals and school experiences; listen to what they share; and then act on what they tell you.
- Make greater access to grade-appropriate assignments an urgent priority for all students, no matter their race, income level, or current performance level.
- Give all students, especially those who are behind grade level, access to instruction that asks them to think and engage deeply with challenging material.
- Ensure educators enact high expectations for student success by seeing firsthand that students are capable of succeeding with more rigorous material.
- Conduct an equity audit to identify school and district-level decisions—from the diversity of staff at all levels to the demographics of students enrolled in honors courses—that give some students greater access to key resources.
Explore the full interactive report here.