The Opportunity Gap in Schools

I recently gave a short talk at NC State as part of a new event called TUFFTalks*.  Here is the video of that talk.  It is 16 minutes long and is a shorter version of a talk I have given at many schools. At the heart of this talk is the question about our assumptions regarding how we ‘group’ our students and the impact this has on student social, emotional, and educational outcomes.  The theme of the TUFFTalk was Think and Do, which is a motto at NC State.

I hope you have the time to watch.



Here is a link to the article reviewing the TUFFTalks at NCSU from the student newspaper, The Technician

THIS JUST IN – Here is a link to an article about the work of NC State’s Patricia Marshall, Jessica DeCuir-Gunby and Allison McCulloch. It addresses the topic of mathematics and multiculturalism in young learners.    Take a look if you are interested in learning more about eliminating the opportunity gap!

*Our NC State Mascots are named Mr. and Ms. Wuf and our LIVE wolf mascot is named Tuffy.  That’s where the name TUFFTalk came from.


Categories: Uncategorized


I am an Associate Teaching Professor in the Elementary Education department at NC State where I specialize in Math Methods. I went to Duke where I earned a B.A. in Anthropology and played on the Golf Team. I have an M.Ed. in Special Education and a Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction with a concentration in mathematics education, both from NC State. My interest in Math waned in middle and high school. But when I began to support high school students in math as part of my job as a special educator, I became interested in the cultural and instructional aspects of mathematics. And now, 25 years later, that's pretty much all I think about.


Subscribe to our RSS feed and social profiles to receive updates.

18 Comments on “The Opportunity Gap in Schools”

  1. Julie
    March 29, 2016 at 9:13 am #

    This was awesome! Thanks for sharing.

  2. julie827
    March 29, 2016 at 9:14 am #

    This was awesome. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Chris Cain
    April 18, 2016 at 12:18 pm #

    Very nice VAL!

  4. Matt Hoskins
    May 12, 2016 at 9:07 am #

    This should be required viewing for all educators!

  5. Dana Bassett
    May 19, 2016 at 2:17 pm #

    I really enjoyed this. Makes you really second guess a lot that we do on the elementary level.

  6. Cece
    May 22, 2016 at 5:05 pm #

    It was a refreshing way to see things in perspective. It was based on such real world connections that I feel that it will stay with me always.” Let’s become who we want to become”:..perfect sentiment 🙂

  7. Allison Landry
    July 28, 2016 at 7:50 pm #

    Such a powerful tool for all educators!

  8. Peggy Andrews
    September 23, 2017 at 8:27 am #

    The talk may have been only 16 minutes but exponentially more for me to process with every decision I make in my first grade classroom.

    • May 1, 2018 at 8:06 am #

      Apologies for my delay in getting back to you.
      Thank you so much for your comment and for engaging with that video. I know, right? There is so much to think about and consider as a teacher. So glad you are batting around the ideas and considering what it means for you and your students. Please let me know if you have any questions or need further resources. We are working on creating more as well.
      Keep fighting the good fight! Here is a nice link from the San Fran United school district where they have recently instituted a system where ALL 8th graders take the same math class.

  9. Jodie L. Roberson
    May 19, 2020 at 5:08 pm #

    I enjoyed watching your video. I am a non-degree grad student applying for entry into NCSU PhD program, TELS department. I have been reading up on the research interests of many of the faculty at NCSU. I am currently a first grade teacher. Last Summer, I took the Foundations in Math course through DPI in my county. I saw that you were a co-author of that training, so I dug a little deeper and this afternoon, I found your video. I saw a clip of it during the foundations training last summer. It was refreshing to see it again. My interests have to do with trauma, poverty, and resiliency. I look forward to getting to know you and looking further into your research.


  1. News and Notes from the Leadership Team 6/19/2017 | School Psychology Section - June 19, 2017

    […] Presentation If you have a few moments this summer, please view the video in this link from Dr. Valerie Faulkner.  It is about equity and the opportunity gap many students unfortunately […]

  2. The Stories We Tell: Math, Race, Bias, and Opportunity | math club - January 9, 2020

    […] book with my colleagues Patricia Marshall and Lee Stiff.  This book builds on the themes from the Opportunity Gap video I posted a few years ago.  From there we published an article in the Kappan magazine, and, now, a […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: