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Underachievement

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Updated June 18, 2014

Definition: Underachievement occurs when a child's performance is below what is expected based on the child's ability.

For example, a child who scores in the 90th percentile range on standardized tests can be expected to excel in school, to be earning A's and perhaps some B's. A child with high potential who earns less than B's is said to be underachieving.

Some experts suggest that gifted children who are working below their potential in school are not necessarily underachievers. They may be excelling in areas outside of school. For example, these children may be composing music, creating and working in community assistance programs, or tutoring underprivileged children.

However, even though some gifted children may be highly motivated to work and excel outside of the school environment, underachieving in the school is still considered a problem since school grades, particularly those in high school, can either open or close doors to possibilities in the future.
Also Known As: Working below potential
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