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  • Urgent need to narrow down the gap between aspirations and outcome
  • Posted By:
  • Staff Admin
  • Posted On:
  • 12-Jun-2015
  • Widening disparities between rich and poor students in the field of higher education were startlingly revealed in two different articles published recently. There are many factors that contribute to the growing gap.

    Published by the Brookings Institution, the article written by Isabel Sawhill lists out the class-related gaps in college graduation rate, attendance, school test scores, parenting styles, family structure and neighbourhood conditions. According to her, as compared to a few years ago, the gap between kids from less and more advantaged background has become much wider.

    Sawmill suggests that the only solution for this issue is to create a continuum right through to college graduation by creating programs that are evidence based. In the elementary and high school level, Sawmill recommends comprehensive reforms.

    Another suggestion is to improve the quality of pre-K education. Our system could include effective home visiting programs too, Sawmill suggests. There will be a significant boost to social mobility provided these programs are implemented, she says.

    Susan Dynarski, in her New York Times article says that as compared to the enrolment gap, the graduation gap is much wider. Her conclusion is based on a study conducted by the National Center for Education Statistics in 2002.

    Based on factors such as occupation, income and education of parents, students were divided into four quartiles. To earn a bachelor’s degree was the optimistic goal of at least 70% of these students.

    The top quartile saw 24% students planning on getting an advanced degree and 87% earning at least a bachelor’s degree. The bottom quartile saw 12% students planning on graduating school and 58% on obtaining a bachelor’s degree.

    In the year 2015, what had happened to the 15,000 sophomores involved in the study is disheartening to say the least. Just 14% of participants from disadvantaged families earned a bachelor’s degree. This means that out of the 100 students optimistically wishing to earn a degree, only 14 of them could do so. At least 60% students from the advantaged families however were able to earn a bachelor’s.

    It is evident that gap in attainment of bachelor’s degree cannot be explained by educational achievement. This was proved by tracking sophomores through reading and math tests to see if the dream of disadvantaged students were not simple over confidence. This clearly shows that when it comes to higher education attainment, skills are trumped by class.

    This is clearly a crisis America must recover from in order to progress as a nation. To maintain our uniqueness and primacy as the leading educator of the world, we must adjust our educational policy on a war footing.

    Our future hinges on putting together a series of reform measures that includes students from all background into the fold giving them equal opportunities irrespective of their class. Careful study must be conducted with respect to the gap between aspiration and outcome.

    It is imperative to ensure that a seamless pathway is paved right from the cradle to career which means there must be no disparity in strategies with respect to higher and basic education in our country.

    Democratic shifts must be effectively embraced when it comes to enrolment, recruitment, graduation, persistence and placement in higher education. This is definitely the only way out if we have to turn around our education system and ensure it serves the country as a whole.


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