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“A Tale of Two Schools”: Educational Differences

According to Dynarski (2016), “education is deeply unequal in the United States, with students in poor districts performing at levels several grades below those of children in richer areas” (para. 1). It means that economic disadvantages often translate into academic achievement gaps in students. The video “A Tale of Two Schools” reveals a few particular factors and circumstances that lead to differences in the performance of learners from different educational settings. They will be discussed in the following paragraphs.

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The first evident difference is in the curriculum and educational programs provided to students. For instance, Jackson from McLean High School in Virginia attends classes of advanced placement literature, advanced placement US government and comparative government, music theory, leadership, technical theater, and some other subjects. At the same time, Cedrick from Heritage High School in Maryland studies English, biology, art, health, and algebra (Hsarhan1, 2009).

It seems the curriculum at McLean High School is more differentiated and meets the present-day occupational demands. Therefore, this school can prepare students for professional development after graduation better than Heritage High School, which provides only general theoretical knowledge and limited opportunities for the advancement of critical thinking skills in learners.

Another major difference is in the level of students’ motivation to learn. As Cedrick notes, students in Heritage High School are not empowered to influence the course of their education and cannot change the overall situation in the setting, while a high degree of student engagement and orientation towards academic success in McLean High School may indicate that learners are given sufficient level of autonomy there and are involved in decision making regarding the arrangement of educational processes (Hsarhan1, 2009).

The differences contribute to distinct learning outcomes. What is more important, the given factor can lead to preserving current attitudes to learning and education in the long run as well and define the goal orientation behaviors in students.

Thirdly, the level of availability of technological equipment and other learning resources in the two schools is drastically different. Jackson has access to advanced sound engineering and sound recording systems, while Cedrick does not have a chance to use similar technologies during the education. Again, technologies give the former student an opportunity to advance skills in extra-curricular and highly demanded spheres such as performance production and so on. He is considering that technology becomes a vital element in almost all areas of professional performance, learners who have a chance to interact with multiple devices early in life gain significant advantages in terms of knowledge and competence, which can make them more appealing to employers in the future.

The mentioned differences between the schools reflect the overall economic disparities, which can be addressed merely through comprehensive national and state-level intervention strategies. Nevertheless, it is possible to say that schools in poorer districts can fill student performance gaps to some extent by empowering learners and increasing their involvement in curriculum-linked and school-related decision-making.

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Educators must be accountable for students’ interests and alter the learning process accordingly in order to engage them in education more easily. Conversely, the failure to create meaningful educational experiences for students leads to their greater disengagement, makes them bored and inattentive to classroom activities. Therefore, by making students active participants in the school development and by establishing mutual communication with them, educators can foster a collaborative and supportive school environment. As a result, it may increase learners’ motivation to succeed in education and help maintain productive and positive behaviors.


Hsarhan1. (2009). A tale of two schools. Web.

Dynarski, S. (2016). Why American schools are even more unequal than we thought. New York Times. Web.

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