Self-esteem or self-respect has a clear relationship with school performance. Self-esteem can be considered a non-specific form of motivation. Self-esteem is not an unambiguous concept. It has different aspects: personal, academic, physical, social, etc. that can be present independently of each other.
A few years ago, schools in California started teaching self-esteem. The idea was that if self-esteem increased, self-esteem would improve as well. The study of students who took these classes showed that the increased self-esteem had no impact on performance. The reverse was happening; better performance led to increased self-esteem. Self-esteem did not increase by constantly telling students how well they did something; even when it comes to very simple tasks. The main cause of the increased self-esteem was that students had taken on a real challenge and successfully completed it.
Because motivation depends on engaged and real feedback, learning remains problematic as long as the negative cycle of low ability that generates low self-confidence, which in turn leads to even lower performance, is not broken.
This requires a flexible approach that is not based solely on age-based progression. This applies to both gifted and weaker students. Gifted students often find that keeping in line is not challenging enough and can climb to a more appropriate level in a flexible system. For students, for whom the standard curriculum is far too theoretical, keeping up with peers leads irrevocably to failure. By staying longer on a horizontal level and experiencing more success there, the negative cycle is broken. The increasing self-esteem increases their motivation, further increasing performance.