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Helping Struggling Students and Benefiting All: Peer Effects in Primary Education

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  • Berlinski, Samuel
  • Busso, Matías
  • Giannola, Michele

Abstract

We exploit the randomized evaluation of a remedying education intervention that improved the reading skills of low-performing third grade students in Colombia, to study whether providing educational support to low-achieving students affects the academic performance of their higher-achieving classmates. We find that the test scores of non-treated children in treatment schools increased by 0.108 of a standard deviation compared to similar children in control schools. We interpret the reduced-form effect on higher-achieving students as a spillover effect within treated schools. We then estimate a linear-in-means model of peer effects, finding that a one-standard-deviation increase in peers' contemporaneous achievement increases individual test scores by 0.679 of a standard deviation. We rule out alternative explanations coming from a reduction in class size. We explore several mechanisms, including teachers' effort, students' misbehavior, and peer-to-peer interactions. Our findings show that policies aimed at improving the bottom of the achievement distribution have the potential to generate social-multiplier effects that benefit all.

Suggested Citation

  • Berlinski, Samuel & Busso, Matías & Giannola, Michele, 2022. "Helping Struggling Students and Benefiting All: Peer Effects in Primary Education," IDB Publications (Working Papers) 12238, Inter-American Development Bank.
  • Handle: RePEc:idb:brikps:12238
    DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.18235/0004268
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Peer effects; Remedying education;

    JEL classification:

    • D62 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Externalities
    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education
    • I25 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Education and Economic Development
    • J01 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - General - - - Labor Economics: General

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