Achievement Trap: How America is Failing Millions of High-Achieving Students from Lower-Income Families

Heather Cope

Joshua S. Wyner, John M. Bridgeland, and John J. Dilulio, Jr.
Jack Kent Cooke Foundation and Civic Enterprises
September 2007

It isn't only struggling students who have been left behind: 3.4 million high-ability but low-income pupils aren't receiving the educations they deserve, either. Case in point: almost half of low-income youngsters who scored in the top quartile on reading tests as first graders were no longer scoring in the top quartile as fifth graders. Of low-income eighth graders who scored in the top quartile on math tests, only 25 percent were still hitting that mark in twelfth grade. Academically talented poor students are, it seems, still lumped in with their lower-achieving classmates and not given challenging material or held to high expectations. This report makes clear that low-performing schools--often in rural and urban areas--are bringing down their high-achievers rather than pushing them up. While schools focus on bringing low-achieving pupils to a "proficient" level, talented kids with the potential to be "advanced" slide to mediocrity (or worse). Find the report here.

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