Address the EL Opportunity Gap| What can you do about it?

The term “opportunity gap” alludes to the notion that people’s opportunities in life are determined by the arbitrary circumstances in which they are born, such as race, ethnicity, ZIP code, and socioeconomic status, rather than people having the opportunity to fully participate.

We can say, the “opportunity gap” is the distribution of resources and opportunities that is unequal or inequitable.

Opportunity gap example in schools, colleges, working areas

In terms of learning and school readiness, a child can be 2-3 years behind their more affluent peers by the time they start school. If not addressed, the gap will widen over time, limiting future opportunities to pursue higher education or pursue specific career paths.

College is where the effects of an opportunity gap can become most visible in a community. Regardless of one’s background, a college diploma often serves as a leveler. For countless students in the United States, lower rates of high school graduation, family obligations, and the enormous financial burden of college tuition are just a few of the crippling factors.

Many people are harmed by the opportunity gap long before they get the chance to pursue their dream job. Even for those who live and work in the same place, this widens the gap between what can be accomplished. 

Reason for the opportunity gap 

Uncontrollable life factors such as race, language, economics, and family circumstances can all contribute to lower rates of success in educational achievement, career prospects, and other life goals.

WHAT ARE THE OPTIONS FOR CLOSING THE GAP?

Because the achievement gap manifests itself differently in each setting and in each relationship, the only true way to close it is to attend to each student’s individual needs. To address the widespread inequities and disparities that exist in our schools and classrooms, each student requires the attention and encouragement that will enable them to perform at the level to which they are uniquely capable.

A single teacher will not be able to close the achievement gap on their own. Any teacher, on the other hand, can achieve growth and improvement within the confines of each relationship they form with a student. Every day, each teacher, each school, each leader, and each district can start working to reduce and eliminate performance disparities.

Closing the el opportunity gap in learning

Here is what teachers can do in closing the opportunity gap

ELs must be tracked throughout their educational careers, including after they have achieved English proficiency. States are required to collect and report data on exited EL students for four years after they leave the EL subgroup under the Every Student Succeeds Act, which asks them to do so to some extent.

Some states are going above and beyond what the federal government requires. Illinois has created a subgroup category called “former ELs” that tracks the performance of EL students who have graduated from high school. Other states, such as Oregon, have combined outcomes for all current and former ELs to create an “ever-EL” category that accounts for all students who have ever been classified as ELs.

To date, the best solution has been to disaggregate and report all EL outcomes by former and current ELs, as well as to create an “ever-EL” group to track the entire group of current and former ELs across their K-12 trajectories.

Calling out current EL underperformance can help to draw attention to the gaps in opportunity that current ELs face. However, it is critical to recognize that, given the right support, achievement gaps between ELs and their native English-speaking peers narrow as ELs learn English.

To be sure, some subgroups of ELs have difficulty progressing in their studies. Identifying these students and providing them with the interventions they require can be difficult, but some states are attempting to do so by tracking the performance of different subgroups of ELs beyond those required by federal law, such as newly arrived ELs and students with interrupted or formal schooling (SLIFE). 

In addition, states like New York have reported data on “long-term ELs,” or students who took longer than expected to learn English. ESSA only requires states to report ELs’ performance in special education and the number of ELs who have not graduated after 5 years, but not their performance. When it comes to EL students’ achievement, it’s past time to start “challenging conventional wisdom.” We can do this by striking a better balance between identifying where ELs aren’t progressing and recognizing the progress they make throughout their lives.

Some helpful tips for ELs opportunity gap

1. Establish goals and keep track of progress.

We can set reasonable but challenging goals for our students’ progress by tracking their progress (by reading level, math proficiency, or behavior). And, if we’re honest with our students about where they are now and where they could be, we can use technology to hold them accountable for their progress2.

2. Schedule time for students to reflect on themselves.

Students frequently finish an assignment without ever reflecting on the process or what they learned. While we can encourage students to review their work, we will be more successful if we set aside dedicated time and foster a self-reflection culture in the classroom. We can ensure that students are assessing their errors and working to correct them in this way. Create a culture of self-reflection in your classroom by using an “exit ticket.”

3. Maintain an open mind and refrain from making assumptions.

Let’s go beyond collecting academic data on our students and find out more about who they are and what their strengths are. We can reduce implicit bias and increase classroom success by making fewer assumptions about student performance and behavior. Before starting a new unit or topic, find out what your students already know about the subject. A simple K-W-L chart can be used to accomplish this.

4. Establish a relationship with your parents.

Parental involvement in our student’s educational experiences can be increased by developing relationships with their parents. Parents become reliable partners for student success when they are included in the conversation. Make it a point to keep parents informed about their children’s achievements, personally invite them to school events, and/or send home parent communications.

6. Make learning more personalized.

Personalized learning allows students to receive educational opportunities that are tailored to their specific needs while maintaining a focus on long-term academic goals. Technology is a great way to incorporate personalized learning because it allows students to pace themselves, find new challenges on their own, and collaborate with resources that will help them succeed in college and in their careers.

Carter Martin
Latest posts by Carter Martin (see all)

Carter Martin

Hi, I am Carter, and Welcome to Answerout. I started writing on this Blog to share with you guys the tips, Facts and Research which I did in Education Field. & Unlike Some Students, I loved Learning Since a very young age and the best part which excites me are the new Findings in this Field and Increasing more Knowledge.

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