Is Sending Your Kid to the Best High School Helping or Harming Them?

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While it’s widely accepted that sending your children to a top school will provide them with many benefits, data now suggests that it’s not all positive.

Sending children to more selective schools results in benefits and risks to students, according to a new study published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science. Notably, going to a high school with a higher average socioeconomic background resulted in benefits later in life, but going to a high school with higher average achievement levels was harmful, according to researchers.

The researchers used data from Project TALENT, which followed American high schoolers over a 50-year period to track factors related to their academic performance, family background, and educational and professional outcomes. Students who attended schools with higher academic achievement levels were more likely to have lower levels of education, income, and professional prestige 11 and 50 years later. On the other hand, researchers observed that students at high schools with higher socioeconomic backgrounds were more likely to complete advanced schooling, earn higher annual incomes, and hold jobs with more prestige than their counterparts who attended schools with lower socioeconomic backgrounds.

But what’s the reasoning behind these trends? Researchers theorized that students’ educational expectations may be involved; for example, those attending schools with socioeconomic advantages may have higher expectations than those attending schools with higher achievement levels. The study authors hope to continue their research to determine how teachers may prevent students surrounded by high-achieving peers from underestimating their own abilities in the future.

Source: Psychological Science