Competence development of high achievers within the highest track in German secondary school: Evidence for Matthew effects or compensation?

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The Matthew effect hypothesis of academic development predicts that students with higher initial achievement will develop further skills at a faster rate resulting in cumulative advantages. Prior research has focused on the development of reading competence in primary school. To extend this research, we used a sample of N = 1,010 German students in Grades 5 to 9 to compare the development of reading and mathematics skills between high-achieving high-track secondary school students and their peers to clarify whether rates of academic development differ between these groups. Using latent growth curve modeling, we found a pattern of compensation in both domains—that is, the achievement gap became smaller and this was the case particularly in the early grades of secondary school. Thus, our results provide no evidence for the existence of Matthew effects in reading and mathematics in lower secondary school.

ZeitschriftLearning and Individual Differences
Anzahl der Seiten12
PublikationsstatusErschienen - 01.01.2020