1985 was better overall
2015 is better overall
Actually come to think about it, I did not like people trying to cheat when I was in college. It really used to annoy me. I remember I made one guy very, very mad because I would not give him answers on a test.
In my school district, the high schools have several different levels of classes. There are the vocational classes, the "technical prep" classes (to prepare student for post-high school vocational training), the "college prep" classes, the honors classes, the AP classes, and they even bus high schoolers to local college for "duel credit" classes that count towards both high school and college. Our highest performing students can graduate high school with their freshman year of college or half of an associated degree at our community college already completed.
Students with repeated behavior problems are sent to the county "alternative school", which is basically a "last chance" facility that doesn't put up with any crap before they expel students.
What you describe is a concept I described to my mom years ago, but I used the term "educational triage".
Her, and several other teachers (many mine, as my mom is friends with them to this day) I ran the idea by essentially said some mix of its being not fair, bad for self esteem, or it didn't provide roll models for the less capable students. I asked how it was the better performing students job to do that-and never got a cogent answer.
Educating children isnt an insurmountable task, we've done it better before. Thomas Sowell says he received an excellent education in Harlem in the 40's and 50's. Yes, the home environment is a critical factor-but one schools can't control.
We need to change course, where we are headed isn't working.