“If we are truly serious about providing excellence in education for all students, then we should consider changing accountability systems to place emphasis on the growth of low-, middle-, and high-achieving students alike. Our results suggest that this type of accountability would subject some wealthy, underperforming suburban schools to fair and welcome scrutiny.
“Many of America’s future leaders in business, in politics, and in service to humanity will almost certainly be the high achievers in our schools today. While these children are not in short supply, this study suggests that we are not doing everything we could to nurture and sustain their promise, to increase their numbers, and to assure that high-achieving minority students and students in high-poverty schools have every opportunity to reach their goals. The primary reasons these promises remain unfulfilled are unrelated to the resources available to schools. Were that the case, low-poverty schools would produce substantively better gains than others. Instead, the problem seems to be one of consistency in both policy and practice. Educational policy in recent years has focused more on low-performing students than high achievers, and the curricula and instructional practices adapted toward these students produce inconsistent and idio- syncratic results. We can and must do better if we want to secure a future for our children that reflects the opportunities that past generations have enjoyed.”