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Great news today with the release of the National Merit Scholarship list. Despite comprising  less than 8% of the local high school population, Marshall students represent 50% of Duluth’s semi-finalists, who as a group scored in the top 1% in the national exam.

A much more sobering study out today from the Thomas Fordham Institute reports a large decline in performance among elementary and middle school “high achievers” once they reach their next level of education.

Researchers found, for example, that among the 3rd graders who scored above the 90th percentile in math only 57% remained as strong at the end of 8th grade. In a separate analysis, of 6th graders in the top of the reading test, only 52% scored as high as 10th graders.

“If America is to remain internationally competitive, secure, and prosperous,” said Fordham President Chester E. Finn in a press release, “we need to maximize the potential of all our children, including those at the top of the class. Today’s policy debate largely ignores this ‘talented tenth.’ This study shows we are paying a heavy price for that neglect, as so many of our high flyers drift downward over the course of their academic careers.”

Above chart linked from Education Week