Talent on the Sidelines: the Excellence Gap with Dr. Jonathan Plucker


Excellence-Gap-10-18-13Talent on the Sidelines: the Excellence Gap with Dr. Jonathan Plucker

Show Notes
Student Success Podcast No. 5, Oct 24, 2013

** Please also listen to the follow-up interview with Prof. Plucker, March 1, 2014:  Excellence Gaps and the national imperative for equity AND excellence **

Today’s Guest:  Prof. Jonathan Plucker, University of Connecticut

Prof. Jonathan Plucker discusses the just released study “Talent on the Sidelines:  Excellence Gaps and America’s Persistent Talent Underclass.” Prof Plucker shares his amazing insight on the need for educators and policy to address both equity and achievement for our students, as today’s focus on equity has left us with a tremendous “Excellence Gap” between socioeconomic and racial groups, and has left behind untapped talent among our lower performing groups.

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Guest Biography: Dr. Plucker received his bachelor’s degree in chemistry from The University of Connecticut in 1991, where he also received a master’s degree in educational psychology in 1992. After briefly serving as an elementary school teacher, he attended the University of Virginia, where he received his doctorate in educational psychology in 1995. After briefly teaching for two years at the University of Maine, he arrived at Indiana University in 1997 as a visiting assistant professor. He become a tenure-track assistant professor in 1998, with promotion to associate professor in 2001 and full professor in 2006.

Dr. Plucker has received a number of honors for his work. For his creativity work, he has received the Daniel E. Berlyne Award for outstanding research by a junior scholar (2001) and the Rudolf Arnheim Award for outstanding research by a senior scholar (2012) from Division 10 of the American Psychological Association, and the 2007 E. Paul Torrance Award for creativity research from the National Association of Gifted Children. For his gifted education research, he has received the NAGC Early Scholar Award (1998) and two awards from the Mensa Education & Research Foundation Award for Excellence in Research (1997 & 2000). For his education policy work, he was ranked in 2011 as one of the Top 100 most influential academics working in education policy.

Dr. Plucker is a fellow of the American Psychological Association (2009) and was named a Fellow of the American Associate for the Advancement of Science in 2011 “for distinguished contributions to the science of creativity and the creation of research-supported education policy.”

Topics Discussed

  • Achievement gaps: but minimum competency gaps
  • Minimal achievement is not helping — still losing talent
  • 2010 Report the product of these questions: is anyone really considering wasted potential?
  • 3 years work for this new report
  • Early years demonstrated excellence, but by 8th grade loses all advances
  • “Excellence gap” = measurement of differences in high level performance between
    across minority groups: 2% achieve excellences… unfathomable… yet, this was an increase over previous measurements
  • Means huge pool of wasted talent
  • Critics impugn that these studies claim that excellence gaps are more important to close than minimum competency gaps: not so! : moral and ethical requirement to assist the lowest levels, but minimal competency should not be the sole policy focus
  • “Free and reduced lunch” defined
  • Impact of poverty on education
  • Opportunity gaps v. achievement gaps
  • Untapped talent
  • Not equity v. excellence: this is equity AND excellence
  • Bias towards reporting or testing results towards minimum competency and avoiding excellence gaps
  • Laws of unintended consequence
  • Example of special education: can be followed for excellence gap in policy
  • How to get more students performing at the highest level?
  • Next study: looking at state k-12 accountability and how each treats excellence. Currently , they either ignore excellence or implicitly penalize it.  And these systems drive priorities for instruction
  • add straight forward-indicators on excellence to promote awareness and action on driving excellence.
  • Excellence is an American value, should be imnportant. We can achieve equity and excellence.
  • We don’t limit achievement in extracurricular activities so why in academics?

Additional Resources and Links


Host: Michael L. Bromley
Original Music by Christopher Bromley (copyright 2011, 2013)
Background snoring: by Stella
Best Dogs Ever: by Puck & Stella

Stella and Bromley selfie

Here for Puck & Stella slideshow

The A+ Club from School4Schools.com LLC, based in Arlington, VA, is dedicated to helping students across the U.S.A. meet their goals and find the academic success the want and deserve. Contact us here or call now  to (703) 271-5334 to see how we can help.


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