NEPC Review: The Opportunity Myth (TNTP, September 2018)
A TNTP report aims to expose what it labels the “opportunity myth” in American education: that while schools purport to prepare students well, they don’t deliver. It paints a dramatic picture of American students being misled by false promises of opportunity, when they could make significant learning gains if they experienced grade-level content, strong instruction, deep engagement, and high expectations. The report contends that these negative experiences are primarily the result of educators’ daily decisions and are magnified for students of color and low-income students. Though the report presents an array of qualitative and quantitative data, some of its particular claims are not fully supported by evidence, and it is unclear how key constructs are measured. Importantly, in describing educators’ decisions, the report does not sufficiently account for larger systemic and societal impediments to opportunity that serve to establish and maintain many of the obstacles and problematic patterns the report observes.