Every year a select group of Kentucky school districts perform better than expected on measures of educational achievement. These measures include things like the percentage of elementary students who achieve proficiency or distinguished in reading, or the proportion of less‐advantaged middle school students who show a similar level of competency on the math assessment. Understanding the reasons for better‐than‐expected performance is fundamentally important. While our analysis does not address the question of why students perform better than expected, our results can be used to inform further inquiry on that question. Our work is best viewed as a statistical sieve designed to narrow the list of candidate districts worthy of closer examination. By subjecting a school district to closer scrutiny, one can gain a sense of confidence about identifying the constellation of factors facilitating exceptional performance.