Bridging the Excellence Gap with Guest, Dr. Jonathan Plucker

gtchat 03152016 Excellence Gap


This week, we welcomed Dr. Jonathan Plucker to #gtchat to discuss the Excellence Gap and what could be done to impede its growth. Although the focus of the chat was on the U.S., it was noted that recent data shows that this phenomenon is unfortunately occurring in other countries as well.

The Excellence Gap refers to differences in advanced achievement between groups of students; usually focusing on gaps in underperforming groups based on race, ethnicity and socio-economic status. Individuals in all demographic groups have the potential to achieve at advanced levels, but identification is key. Competency must be addressed at every level of achievement; not just the minimum level.

According to Dr. Plucker, “Many different factors have caused the existence and persistence of large excellence gaps including poverty, discrimination, poor access to quality education, psycho-social barriers, among others.”  Excellence gaps can occur due to inadequate funding and resources in schools serving low income and disadvantaged minority communities; inadequate training for teachers working with underperforming subgroups of students; and because of attitudes about high achievement potential of low-income and minority students.

Dr. Plucker pointed out, “It is important to close the Achievement Gap for two reasons: to improve the lives of gifted poor and minority students and to provide our economy and culture with the talent it needs.” According to the NAGC, “Reducing and eliminating excellence gaps is an issue of equity, social justice, economic advancement, and national security. Increasing the number of students realizing their full potential puts the nation back on the path to global leadership. A 5 percent reduction in the 4th gr math excellence gap would increase performance at advanced levels by 80,000 students.”

How do we address and overcome the challenges presented by excellence gaps? Dr. Plucker told us, “Scott Peters and I just finished book on this. Our “Big 6” strategies include: 1) realistic opportunities, 2) universal testing and local norms, 3) ability grouping, 4) better educator preparation and support, 5) improved K-12 accountability systems with adaptive testing, and 6) psycho-social interventions with college students.”

“Relentlessly respect the gifted student’s right to learn something new every day!”   ~ Jeanne Bernish

We then turned out attention to what effect the new Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) might have on closing the Excellence Gap. “We’re not sure yet, as the regulations have yet to be developed; but it COULD mean more adaptive testing and better data reporting. ESSA throws it back to the states, but we need to keep the pressure on at the state level. It cracks the door, but we have to open it,” said Dr. Plucker.

Where do we go from here? What steps should be taken to ensure the momentum continues to close the Excellence Gap? “Keep Excellence Gap data in front of policymakers. Get needs of advanced students into teacher and administrator prep. Get excellence into your state accountability system,” Dr. Plucker told us. Advocates must be vigilant that local LEAs adhere to new rules in ESSA and continue to raise awareness of inequities in educational opportunities for all students.  Jeanne Bernish, Founder of Heather Hill Media, made the excellent point that we should “relentlessly respect the gifted student’s right to learn something new every day!”

“Data are depressing, but we should be energized. We firmly grasp the problem and policymakers are coming around. Full speed ahead!”                                                              ~ Dr. Jonathan Plucker

A transcript a may be found at Storify.

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Global #gtchat Powered by the Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented  is a weekly chat on Twitter. Join us Tuesdays at 8E/7C/6M/5P in the U.S. and Wednesdays at  2 PM (13.00) NZDT/Noon (11.00) AEDT/Midnight UK (Subject to change due to Daylight Savings Time). to discuss current topics in the gifted community and meet experts in the field. Transcripts of our weekly chats can be found atStorify. Our Facebook Page provides information on the chat and news & information regarding the gifted community. Also, checkout our Pinterest Page and Playlist on YouTube.

Head Shot 2014-07-14  About the author: Lisa Conrad is the Moderator of Global #gtchat Powered        by TAGT and Social Media Manager of the Global #gtchat Community. She is a longtime  advocate for gifted children and also blogs at  Gifted Parenting Support. Lisa can be contacted at:


NAGC Position Statement: Addressing Excellence Gaps in K-12 Education (pdf)

Progress Lags in High School, Especially for Advanced Achievers

‘Excellence Gap’ Robs Talented Students of Their Potential

Equal Talents, Unequal Opportunities: Report Card of State Support for Academically Talented Low-Income Students (pdf)

Jack Kent Cooke Foundation and CLASS Coalition Host 2nd “Closing the Excellence Gap” Summit

Top 10 Moments of 2016 “Closing the Excellence Gap” Summit

Finding Teachers Who Can Stimulate High Achievers (pdf)

Center for Evaluation & Education Policy – Excellence Gap 2012

Connecticut Association for the Gifted – Excellence Gap

UK:  Why Isn’t Pupil Premium Closing Excellence Gaps?

Why Minorities Can’t Be Left Out of Gifted and Talented Programs

How Family Background Influences Student Achievement

Advocating for High-Achievers

Excellence Gaps: Role of Translational Research Implementing Large Scale Educational Change (Video)

Dr. @JonathanPlucker ‘s Website

“Talent on the Sidelines: The Widening Gap in Excellence”

“Talent on the Sidelines: Excellence Gaps & America’s Persistent Talent Underclass”  (pdf)

Interview with Jonathan Plucker on Talent on the Sidelines (podcast)

Tackling Inequality in Gifted-and-Talented Programs

Questions and Answers about the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) (pdf)

Graphic courtesy of Lisa Conrad.

Posted on March 20, 2016, in Acceleration, Advocacy, Diversity, Education, gifted, Gifted Adults, gifted and talented, gifted education and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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