Journal of Undergraduate Research


intra-generational achievement, non-linear approach, extreme achievement


Family, Home, and Social Sciences




The hierarchical ranking of children in schools based on cognitive skills has important implications for understanding processes of social stratification. Scholars have noted that differences in cognitive skills in the school context can reach well beyond school, influencing later occupational and economic outcomes (Kerckhoff, Haney, and Glennie 2001). Despite a large scholarship investigating cognitive skills and their link to subsequent outcomes, there is little consensus as to what extent skills developed before school entry influence future achievement and outcomes. Some scholars argue that differences at school entry are magnified over time and that advantages of children who enter school with more skills tend to cumulate, while those with fewer skills fall increasingly behind (Morgan et al. 2008; Kerckhoff and Glennie 1999). Other findings suggest, however, that pre-existing skills differences narrow during school (Leppänen et al. 2004) because disadvantaged students develop new skills at a quicker rate than their advantaged peers (Phillips et al. 2002).

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