Wednesday, November 29, 2006

how to overcome the achievement gap

I just wanted to recommend this longish Times Magazine essay on how schools can eliminate the race/class gap between students and how much effort we really need to solve this problem. It's a fascinating piece!

But just to throw a couple of points:

1. Why don't we take this as seriously in India? Why is there no equivalent of the No Child Left Behind back home? It seems like the problems we face in this department are so much more in magnitude. And yet, I've hardly read any policy pieces about this in India (but then again, that might be my lack of reading...). Surely we have our own version of the achievement gap: between poor and rich kids for one, and more importantly between the forward and the backward castes. A massive investment in bridging this gap strikes me as more level-headed than the absurd quota system we have currently (my objection is not to the quota, but to the level at which we've put it)

2. Why don't we have some equivalent of Teach for America in India, which recruits students from the best campuses (and I mean engineering campuses too) in the country to teach needy areas? I have no doubt interested people would volunteer (I would). Of course there would be some logistical hurdles especially language since primary and middle-school education is best done in the native language but that shouldn't be a hard problem to surmount.

Anyway, now back to work. Also another factor that might influence the achievement gap: stress.

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