In Part One of this series, we envisioned a world where vastly greater numbers of students could improve their cognitive skills so that they score at the 70th percentile or higher. Why the 70th percentile? Because students who perform at the 70th percentile and above generally can learn what they need to without adjustments to the curriculum and instruction. Scores on tests like the CogAT or CCAT that are predictive of academic performance are used for this purpose (among others).
Of course, for any population, only 30 percent can perform in the top 30 percent, but a subgroup of any large population may have a different distribution. Students who are selected for gifted programs must perform at least at the 95th percentile or better, for example. But what we’re talking about is taking a group of students and giving them the opportunity to improve their cognitive capacity so that they can score at the 70th percentile or higher when they weren’t previously.
As an example, all of the 2nd grade students (N=257) at three South Carolina schools took the CogAT at the beginning of the school year (the district uses the CogAT to qualify schools for a gifted program). The students then used cognitive training software for 17 weeks (2 to 3 times a week) and took the assessment again.
Only 13 percent of the students were performing at the 70th percentile or better initially (Composite Scores). After training, 35 percent of the students scored at the 70th percentile or better and the number of students performing in the lowest 30 percent decreased dramatically.
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