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Classroom Peer Effects and Student Achievement

  • Mary A. Burke


    (Research Department, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston)

  • Tim R. Sass


    (Department of Economics, Florida State University)

In this paper we analyze a unique micro-level panel data set encompassing all publicschool students in grades 3-10 in the state of Florida for each of the years 1999/2000-2003/2004.We are able to directly link each student and teacher to a specific classroom and can thus identifyeach member of a student’s classroom peer group. The ability to track individual studentsthrough multiple classrooms over time and multiple classes for each teacher enables us to controlfor many sources of spurious peer effects such as fixed individual student characteristics andfixed teacher inputs, as well as to compare the strength of peer effects across different groupingsof peers, across grade levels, and to compare the effects of fixed versus time-varying peercharacteristics. We find mixed results on the importance of peers in the linear-in-means model,and resolve some of these apparent conflicts by considering non-linear specifications of peereffects. The results suggest that some grouping by ability may create Pareto improvements overuniformly mixed classrooms. In general we find that contemporaneous behavior wields strongerinfluence than peers’ fixed characteristics.

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Paper provided by Department of Economics, Florida State University in its series Working Papers with number wp2006_02_02.

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Length: 47
Date of creation: Feb 2006
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:fsu:wpaper:wp2006_02_02
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  1. Angrist, Joshua & Lang, Kevin, 2004. "Does School Integration Generate Peer Effects? Evidence from Boston's Metco Program," IZA Discussion Papers 976, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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  3. Charles T. Clotfelter & Helen F. Ladd & Jacob L. Vigdor, 2006. "Teacher-Student Matching and the Assessment of Teacher Effectiveness," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 41(4).
  4. Duflo, Esther & Dupas, Pascaline & Kremer, Michael, 2008. "Peer Effects, Teacher Incentives, and the Impact of Tracking: Evidence from a Randomized Evaluation in Kenya," CEPR Discussion Papers 7043, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  5. Elizabeth M. Caucutt, 2002. "Educational Vouchers When There Are Peer Group Effects--Size Matters," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 43(1), pages 195-222, February.
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