The author of a new book on academically selective public high schools said Thursday that educators need to identify and nurture bright students long before the ninth grade.
Speaking on WNYC’s The Takeaway, Chester Finn Jr., former assistant secretary of education and co-author of “Exam Schools: Inside America’s Most Selective High Schools,” said public high schools that depend on test scores to decide admission are one way to serve strong academic students. But he would like to see more done for them, and earlier, starting in elementary school.
“The larger policy point is that the country has not been doing well by its high-ability kids, those who are likely to be tomorrow’s scientists and inventors and entrepreneurs and technologists,” Finn said. “We’ve been working real hard to pull up the bottom under low achievers, which is a good thing to do, but we’ve been letting languish many kids at the top.”
He said giving special attention to high-achieving students at a younger age was another way to support children who are at the head of their classes.
“A lot of them need to start before high school by finding these kids in the third, fourth grades, and having suitable schools, teachers, classrooms for them,” Finn said. “If we did that better there would be tens of thousands of more applicants for these high schools.”
Listen to the full interview and let us know what you think about his opinion that not enough is being done to help smart kids.