Falling Out of the Lead: Following High Achievers through High School and Beyond

This report presents a mixed-method study that investigated high-achieving high school students’ success on key indicators of post-secondary school readiness. The authors used data from the Educational Longitudinal Study of 2002 to examine college enrollment patterns and college readiness indicators, such as high school course-taking, success on AP tests, SAT/ACT scores, and academic GPAs. The authors compared the data by subgroup, including race/ethnicity and socio-economic status (SES). To supplement the quantitative data, the authors interviewed five high-achieving, diverse, low-income students to illustrate the importance of school experiences in preparing students for life after high school.

Content Comments 

This report presents general trends between high-achieving high school students of different race/ethnicities and SES, looking at school location, high school courses, SAT/ACT scores, GPAs, and post-secondary success. Because the authors examine data from the Educational Longitudinal Study of 2002, the results can be generalized broadly. However, it may be difficult to take the results from this type of data and apply it toward changing the educational outcomes of low-SES and minority students. The authors write about quantitative data in an accessible manner; furthermore, this report presents information in visually appealing and reader-friendly ways. For example, main findings or points are summarized at the beginning of each section, and the figures and graphics nicely display the data. Overall, this report presents findings about a group of students that deserve more support and attention, and it sheds light on what indicators initially high-achieving students of color and low-SES students are getting off track in high school.