"Do High Flyers Maintain Their Altitude? Performance Trends of Top Students," is the first study to examine the performance of America’s highest-achieving children over time at the individual-student level. Produced in partnership with the Northwest Evaluation Association, it finds that many high-achieving students struggle to maintain their elite performance over the years and often fail to improve their reading ability at the same rate as their average and below-average classmates. The study raises troubling questions: Is our obsession with closing achievement gaps and “leaving no child behind” coming at the expense of our “talented tenth”—and America’s future international competitiveness? Read on to learn more.

What people are saying

"This study is important, very important!" - Jim Bohannon The Jim Bohannon Show

"This report attempts to answer the critical and largely-neglected question of how high-performing students are faring in the NCLB-era classroom. The findings speak to the messy and inconvenient reality that individual students’ abilities are not fixed, nor their development predictable. For better and worse, changes in a learner’s academic achievement occur both because and in spite of what and how he or she is taught." - Jessica Hockett is an education consultant and Association of Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD) faculty member specializing in differentiated instruction, curriculum design for academically diverse classrooms, and education for gifted and talented learners.

“The NWEA team is to be congratulated for making clear the costs and implications of this effort, and for posing squarely the thorny, unpleasant questions that would-be reformers have consistently sought to avoid.” - Frederick M. Hess is resident scholar and director of education studies at the American Enterprise Institute. 

“This new study demonstrates the importance of appropriate testing and assessment for gifted students–assessment that will give educators and parents solid information on students progress from year to year.” - Paula Olszewski-Kubilius is director of Northwestern University’s Center for Talent Development (CTD) and a professor in the School of Education and Social Policy. http://ctdblog.northwestern.edu/

"It is my hope that this report debunks, once and for all, the absurdity that high-achieving students will do fine without appropriate services delivered by teachers trained in gifted education strategies." - National Association for Gifted Children.


Yun Xiang is a Research Specialist at the Northwest Evaluation Association. Yun’s areas of expertise include growth modeling, program evaluation, and handling of large datasets. Her recent published works and presentations include an investigation of achievement gaps and summer loss, applications of growth modeling in evaluating schools and addressing student mobility, an analysis of school productivity by comparing…

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