What to do with the Overachievers

September 14, 2016 by John Andrew Williams

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There is a challenge to grouping students in classes by date of manufacture. Naturally, some students over-perform while others under-preform.

What if we knew for sure that a quarter of the top performers in a younger class would out preform the bottom quarter of the older class academically?

Would it make sense to put the over performing students in the class above and the underperforming students in the class below?

From an academic perspective, perhaps the answer is y

es. A recent article by NPR discusses a new report that shows 1/4 to 1/2 of students perform at levels one grade or more ahead of students in the upper grade. This report could have major policy implications for more students being tested and given more flexibility in choosing classes.

School and college admissions are based on ‘this is your class of peers’ and look at what percentile you score within your age group. The biggest challenge schools face when making changes is the challenge to this traditional understanding of achievement and status.

Imagine being that student who had a bad test day and is stuck in the class behind. Imagine being in a class with students one or two years younger than you, feeling that you can just barely keep up.

The impact of this report will probably be just another crack in the idea of keeping students in classrooms according to age. However, until technology offers a truly personalized learning system, not much is going to change. The change will require teaches to also buy into a new system and be trained not just as teachers, but also as academic life coaches.

When those few schools dare to take such a plunge, this report will give the administrator and school board another report to justify the leap. I hope that when the leap is made, the students have the support of coaches to make the most of it.

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