Excellence Gap

Too often, low-income students fail to reach the same levels of achievement as their higher-income peers – despite equal abilities and intelligence. This Excellence Gap – the disparity in the percent of lower-income versus higher-income students who reach advanced levels of academic performance – appears first in elementary school and actually widens as students move through middle school, high school, college, and beyond.

The facts are clear: despite scoring in the top 25% academically, low-income students are less likely to have the chance to participate in programs geared toward high-achieving students. Less than half (49%) of these students took at least one Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate course (as compared to 71% of their wealthier peers). Only a third (30%) participatedin an academic honor society (versus 51% of their wealthier peers).

In coordination with the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, the CLASS Coalition is fighting to close the Excellence Gap by enacting targeted strategies in our schools designed to support low-income, high-achieving students.

These policies include:

  • Implementing policies to help academic leaders better identify and  monitor the achievement of low-income, high-achieving students;

  • Supplementing costs for AP testing, entrance exams and college  application fees;

  • Ensuring free online access to SAT and ACT prep courses;

  • Helping low-income students afford text books, school supplies,  and extracurricular activities;

  • Providing access to free tutoring services and supplemental academic  programming;

  • Connecting students to college advisors and academic counselors; and

  • Assisting students in securing internship or mentorship programs.