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Report Faults Educators for an “Opportunity Myth,” Rather than Larger, Systemic Barriers

BOULDER, CO (January 24, 2019) – A recent report from TNTP, formerly known as The New Teacher Project, aims to expose what it labels the “opportunity myth” in American education: that while schools purport to prepare students well, they don’t deliver. 

Amanda Datnow of the University of California, San Diego, reviewed The Opportunity Myth: What Students Can Show Us About How School Is Letting Them Down—and How to Fix It. Professor Datnow notes that the report conveys a great sense of urgency, with descriptions of students spending significant time on below-grade-level assignments, lacking strong instruction and high expectations, and being disengaged in school. 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. In this sense, the report addresses important issues. 

Yet the report’s claims are not fully supported by evidence, and there are questions about how key constructs are measured and how data are analyzed. Professor Datnow found its conclusions reported in a way that seems to be aimed at creating a sense of crisis around the claims rather than reporting nuanced, in-depth research findings based on rigorous methods.

The report also focuses primarily on educators’ daily decisions. Professor Datnow concludes that 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 it observes.

Moreover, the report’s practical implications relate only to the aspects of the opportunity myth on which the authors chose to focus. While educators’ daily decision-making could undoubtedly be improved, large-scale improvement will depend on addressing larger systemic and societal impediments to opportunity.

Find the review, by Amanda Datnow, at:

Find The Opportunity Myth: What Students Can Show Us About How School Is Letting Them Down—and How to Fix It, published by TNTP, at:

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