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September 24, 2007
By: Julie Rawe
First, the good news: It turns out, millions of kids from low-income families are acing standardized tests. According to the first nationwide analysis of high-achieving students based on income, more than 1 million K-12 students who qualify for free or reduced-price lunches rank in the top quartile. Expand the category to include children whose families make less than the median U.S. income, and the total rises to 3.4 million—more than the entire population of Iowa. Now the bad news: nearly half of lower-income students in the top tier in reading fall out of it by fifth grade. As economically disadvantaged brainiacs get older, 25% of them drop ranks in math in high school, and 41% don’t finish college. “We’re losing them at every stage in education,” says Joshua Wyner, executive vice president of the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, which wrote the report with public-policy development firm Civic Enterprises.
These groups are trying to get the No Child Left Behind Act to at least start keeping tabs on advanced learners. One proposal on Capitol Hill would go a step further by giving schools credit for moving kids from proficient to advanced levels. But how to spot early potential?
Elementary school score is for reading. High school score is for math. Source: Jack Kent Cooke Foundation