I didn't come up with this myself, but it is now the conventional wisdom in Providence's high schools that the immediate priority in terms of raising test scores is to focus on the highest achieving students. If only 5% or so are passing, and getting to 10% or 15% would be a great step, you're talking about getting, say, instead of one or two kids in each classroom over the standards to getting three or four to pass. Realistically, most of the class has no chance. The "bubble kids" are now at the top of the class.
I'm not saying that's the official policy, anyone's acting on that, whatever. It is just clear that if you get together, analyze the data, and come up with a strategic plan... that's what the data is telling you. It is a rather different "call to action" than most ed reform advocates think they're making.