Opportunity Myth  

  • February 27, 2023
Opportunity Myth

In 2018, prior to the pandemic, The New Teacher Project (TNTP) published the educational report “The Opportunity Myth.” TNTP partnered with five diverse school systems. During this study, they observed nearly 1000 lessons, reviewed almost 5000 assignments, analyzed more than 20,000 work samples and collected nearly 30,000 student surveys. Through this work, TNTP was trying to answer the question, “How can so many students be graduating from high school unprepared to meet their goals for college and career?”

TNTP’s findings:
1.) Students have clear plans for attending college or entering the workforce.
2.) Most students do what they’re asked in school but are still not ready to succeed after school.
3.) Students spend most of their time in school without access to four key resources: grade-appropriate assignments, strong instruction, deep engagement, and teachers who hold high expectations.
4.) Students of color, those from low-income families, English language learners and students with mild to moderate disabilities have even less access to these resources than their peers.
5.) Greater access to the four resources can and does improve student achievement–particularly for students who start the school year behind.

TNTP found that on average students had access to the four key resources about 30% of the time.

The Nebraska Department of Education (NDE) conducted a similar study, Nebraska Scorecard, centered around the identified four key resources. NDE found better, but similar results. Nebraska students:

  • Had access to grade appropriate assignments 38% of the time.
  • Experienced strong instructional practices 37% of the time.
  • Participated in deeply engaging instruction 38% of the time

Nebraska teachers tend to have higher expectations for students with 70% supporting the Nebraska State Standards.

The Teaching and Learning Department is responding to both of these studies. We are working with our schools to share the results of these studies, but more importantly provide training on the four key resources. By focusing on the identified four resources, we are able to support schools in improving their core instruction and have a greater impact on all students’ learning.

Sources: TNTP, Opportunity Myth, 2018 & NDE Dr. Vargas, Accountability & School Improvement Updates, 9/15/22

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