Shockingly, measures aimed at narrowing the gap between “advantaged” and “disadvantaged” students only narrow the gap when they’re denied to the “advantaged” students.
OK, maybe you’re not so shocked, but Cornell researchers Stephen J. Ceci and Paul B. Papierno were:
It turns out, however, that when these gap-narrowing interventions are universalized — given not only to the group of children who most need assistance but also to the more advantaged group (regardless of whether the latter is identified as White, rich, high ability, etc.), a surprising and unanticipated consequence sometimes occurs: The preintervention gap between the disadvantaged group and the advantaged group is actually widened as a consequence of making the intervention universally available. This is because, as we will show, although the disadvantaged children who most need the intervention do usually gain significantly from it, the higher functioning or more advantaged children occasionally benefit even more from the intervention. The result is increased disparity and a widening of the gap that existed prior to universalizing the intervention. This has led a prominent intervention researcher to bemoan the major drawback of universalization that “makes nice children even nicer but has a negligible effect on those children at greatest risk” (Offord, 1996, p. 338).