Starting high school as a top academic performer doesn’t mean you’ll leave that way, especially if you’re a student from a poor or diverse background.

A report released yesterday by The Education Trust, a Washington, D.C., advocacy group, takes a closer look at students of different races and socioeconomic status who began high school as high achievers but fell behind their peers by senior year.

They summed up the report’s main points:

Nationally, there are 61,250 students of color and 60,300 students from low-socioeconomic backgrounds who perform among the top 25 percent of all students in reading and math at the beginning of high school.

Many high-achieving students of color and students from low-socioeconomic backgrounds, however, leave high school with lower AP exam rates, lower SAT/ACT scores, and lower GPAs than their high-achieving white and more advantaged peers — a reality that influences their choices beyond high school.

The study indicates that those students may be lagging because they are not getting the same type of instruction and support from their schools as white and more advantaged students receive.

The analysis goes on to address what that means for their futures.

For instance, the researchers found fewer black and Latino or low-income students who had been identified as top performers took college-admissions tests or applied to selective colleges.

That, among other factors, leads to less diversity in colleges and leadership roles down the line, the study concluded.

“Serving high-achieving students well is a serious responsibility for our high schools,” said Christina Theokas, director of research and co-author of the report. “Our nation can’t afford this loss of potential. With attention, schools and educators can disrupt the inequitable outcomes experienced by black and Latino students and students from less advantaged backgrounds.”

Access the full report here.

Reach Halle Stockton at 412-315-0263 or

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Halle is executive director, editor-in-chief of PublicSource. She has served as editor-in-chief since May 2022 after seven years as managing editor during which PublicSource won two consecutive international...