Excellence and equity constitute educational policies or commitments made by educators that offer equal opportunities for students to address the issues of elitism and egalitarianism in educational systems. It is key goal in education reform in many states.
There are theorists who cite the challenge in pursuing excellence and equity in the United States because they are competing democratic ideals. This is demonstrated in the conflicting values adopted by Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson. The former pushed for excellent schools that cater to the best and the brightest while the latter wanted schools with equal access and opportunity for all. These positions have gathered their respective followings in the United States through the years.
The notion of excellence and equity, for modern scholars such as Carol Ann Tomlinson, involves the adoption of strategies that aim for their balance in schools. It is argued that problems will arise without such balance. For instance, the output of the educational system can be compromised if the emphasis is on excellence because high quality can lead to less quantity due to the nature of resource allocation.
Education leaders such as Washington's Terry Bergeson have stated that excellence and equity are necessary to build in which all students earn a meaningful high school diploma. These goals will break the link between race, poverty and insufficient academic achievement. Standards-based testing has forced face the facts about low achievement. Graduation requirements requiring passing rigorous tests continue to be a spur to action to address and remove those inequities. The National Science Education Standards also name excellence and equity as key goals.