"Practice Makes Perfect"

My family did not have a stable source of income while I was growing up. Wearing the same pair of pants throughout the entire school week was not a matter of choice. I only had one pair of pants. I certainly would meet the description of a disadvantaged student. In addition, I was obviously an English language learner. Factors outside school were clearly not in my favor. I was aware that I was different and disadvantaged, but like any child, I desired to be like my classmates. Being wealthier, I knew, was clearly out of my reach then, but having the same aspiration and dreams, on the other hand, was within my grasp.

Peer pressure is real. What happens inside one's home may seem very influential on a child but upon closer examination, chats that occur inside a playground oftentimes weigh more. A child after all spends most of his or her waking hours not at home but at school. What a child likes to watch on television is shaped by what his or her friends watch. Books that catch the interest of a child's mind are frequently those that contain stories and characters shared with peers. How a child performs in school is deeply influenced by what the child sees in others. When those examples are the correct ones, a child can easily overcome the disadvantages of being poor and challenged.

My personal story is purely an anecdote. But there are others that relate the same story. One example is the PracticeMakesPerfect program based in New York City:

Practice Makes Perfect addresses inequities in socioeconomically disadvantaged neighborhoods over the summer. Research has found that two-thirds of the ninth-grade achievement gap between lower and higher income youth can be explained by unequal access to summer learning opportunities. Students from low-income areas lose between 2.5 to 3.5 months of academic learning each summer, while their affluent peers are making academic gains. 
Our Model

Practice Makes Perfect is a comprehensive summer education program with a proven “near-peer” model to support students from kindergarten through college matriculation. Our programs pair skills development for younger students with leadership development, career training and college prep for older students. Through a unique multi-relational approach, Practice Makes Perfect strategically matches academically struggling elementary and middle school students with older, higher achieving mentor peers from the same inner-city neighborhoods. Trained college interns and certified teachers supervise the “near-peer” relationship for a five-week, full-day academic experience.

And the results of this program are quite promising:

It is therefore clear why inclusive education is a must...