People should be given the freedom to succeed or fail in everything they do. The expectation that students will or won't be able to perform based on prior experience sets up the expectation for the teacher and the students of how they should perform.
Educators need to believe that everyone is capable of performing at a higher level, then actively let that expectation be known to students. Every student can perform given the opportunity to understand what is required of them.
Here is an alternative I would like to suggest and what I try to do when describing students, even when they are not listening. Saying more experienced or less experienced still gets a similar point across without pigeon holing the student into a capability category. It is obvious that some people are more experienced than others and through that experience students are able to give the impression of being "higher" or "lower," but in reality we are the sum of our experiences.
So, please give students the benefit of the doubt and shift your perception.