What School Leaders Need to Know About the Performance of High-Achieving Students on Standardized Tests
Nichols, Jennifer Chu
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The No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) of 2001 has changed the accountability of student achievement in American public schools. Since the enactment, achievement has increased for low-achieving students (Loveless, 2008). However, achievement for high-achieving students is leveling (Finn, Scull, & Winkler, 2011). This study identified and analyzed the performance trends of a cohort of students at the individual student level in mathematics and reading over four years. Students maintained, gained, lost, or never had high-achieving status during the study. Math lost high achievers overtime whereas reading gained high achievers overtime. Achievement status groups and trends across grade levels were examined by gender, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status to determine differences. There were differences in the performance of ethnic and economically disadvantaged groups but not by gender. This study highlights the need to examine achievement gaps among high achievers, not just low achievers, to ensure all students’ needs are met.