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Peer Effects, Teacher Incentives, and the Impact of Tracking: Evidence from a Randomized Evaluation in Kenya

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  • Esther Duflo
  • Pascaline Dupas
  • Michael Kremer

Abstract

To the extent that students benefit from high-achieving peers, tracking will help strong students and hurt weak ones. However, all students may benefit if tracking allows teachers to present material at a more appropriate level. Lower-achieving pupils are particularly likely to benefit from tracking if teachers would otherwise have incentives to teach to the top of the distribution. We propose a simple model nesting these effects. We compare 61 Kenyan schools in which students were randomly assigned to a first grade class with 60 in which students were assigned based on initial achievement. In non-tracking schools, students randomly assigned to academically stronger peers scored higher, consistent with a positive direct effect of academically strong peers. However, compared to their counterparts in non-tracking schools, students in tracking schools scored 0.14 standard deviations higher after 18 months, and this effect persisted one year after the program ended. Furthermore, students at all levels of the distribution benefited from tracking. Students near the median of the pre-test distribution benefited similarly whether assigned to the lower or upper section. A natural interpretation is that the direct effect of high-achieving peers is positive, but that tracking benefited lower-achieving pupils indirectly by allowing teachers to teach at a level more appropriate to them.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 14475.

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Date of creation: Nov 2008
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Publication status: published as Esther Duflo & Pascaline Dupas & Michael Kremer, 2011. "Peer Effects, Teacher Incentives, and the Impact of Tracking: Evidence from a Randomized Evaluation in Kenya," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(5), pages 1739-74, August.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:14475

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  1. Manning, Alan & Pischke, Jörn-Steffen, 2006. "Comprehensive versus Selective Schooling in England and Wales: What Do We Know?," CEPR Discussion Papers, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers 5653, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Banerjee, Abhijit & Cole, Shawn & Duflo, Esther & Linden, Leigh, 2006. "Remedying Education: Evidence from Two Randomized Experiments in India," CEPR Discussion Papers, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers 5446, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. Paul Glewwe & Michael Kremer & Sylvie Moulin, 2007. "Many Children Left Behind? Textbooks and Test Scores in Kenya," NBER Working Papers, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc 13300, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Joshua D. Angrist & Victor Lavy, 1999. "Using Maimonides' Rule To Estimate The Effect Of Class Size On Scholastic Achievement," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, MIT Press, vol. 114(2), pages 533-575, May.
  5. Andrabi, Tahir & Das, Jishnu & Khwaja, Asim Ijaz & Zajonc, Tristan, 2009. "Do value-added estimates add value ? accounting for learning dynamics," Policy Research Working Paper Series, The World Bank 5066, The World Bank.
  6. Weili Ding & Steven F. Lehrer, 2007. "Do Peers Affect Student Achievement in China's Secondary Schools?," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, MIT Press, vol. 89(2), pages 300-312, May.
  7. Betts, Julian R. & Shkolnik, Jamie L., 1999. "Key difficulties in identifying the effects of ability grouping on student achievement," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 19(1), pages 21-26, February.
  8. Dan A. Black & Jose Galdo & Jeffrey A. Smith, 2007. "Evaluating the Worker Profiling and Reemployment Services System Using a Regression Discontinuity Approach," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 97(2), pages 104-107, May.
  9. Victor Lavy & M. Daniele Paserman & Analia Schlosser, 2008. "Inside the Black of Box of Ability Peer Effects: Evidence from Variation in the Proportion of Low Achievers in the Classroom," NBER Working Papers, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc 14415, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Joshua D. Angrist & Kevin Lang, 2004. "Does School Integration Generate Peer Effects? Evidence from Boston's Metco Program," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 94(5), pages 1613-1634, December.
  11. Caroline Hoxby, 2000. "Peer Effects in the Classroom: Learning from Gender and Race Variation," NBER Working Papers, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc 7867, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. David S. Lyle, 2007. "Estimating and Interpreting Peer and Role Model Effects from Randomly Assigned Social Groups at West Point," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, MIT Press, vol. 89(2), pages 289-299, May.
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