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Inside the Black of Box of Ability Peer Effects: Evidence from Variation in the Proportion of Low Achievers in the Classroom

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  • Victor Lavy
  • M. Daniele Paserman
  • Analia Schlosser

Abstract

In this paper, we estimate the extent of ability peer effects in the classroom and explore the underlying mechanisms through which these peer effects operate. We identify as low ability students those who are enrolled at least one year behind their birth cohort ("repeaters"). We show that there are marked differences between the academic performance and behavior of repeaters and regular students. The status of repeaters is mostly determined by first grade; therefore, it is unlikely to have been affected by their classroom peers, and our estimates will not suffer from the reflection problem. Using within school variation in the proportion of these low ability students across cohorts of middle and high school students in Israel, we find that the proportion of low achieving peers has a negative effect on the performance of regular students, especially those located at the lower end of the ability distribution. An exploration of the underlying mechanisms of these peer effects shows that, relative to regular students, repeaters report that teachers are better in the individual treatment of students and in the instilment of capacity for individual study. However, a higher proportion of these low achieving students results in a deterioration of teachers' pedagogical practices, has detrimental effects on the quality of inter-student relationships and the relationships between teachers and students, and increases the level of violence and classroom disruptions.

Suggested Citation

  • 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 14415, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:14415
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Olof Åslund & Per-Anders Edin & Peter Fredriksson & Hans Grönqvist, 2011. "Peers, Neighborhoods, and Immigrant Student Achievement: Evidence from a Placement Policy," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 3(2), pages 67-95, April.
    2. 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 1739-1774, August.
    3. Stephen Gibbons & Olmo Silva & Felix Weinhardt, 2013. "Everybody Needs Good Neighbours? Evidence from Students’ Outcomes in England," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 123, pages 831-874, September.
    4. Stephen L. Ross, 2009. "Social Interactions within Cities: Neighborhood Environments and Peer Relationships," Working papers 2009-31, University of Connecticut, Department of Economics.
    5. Steven N. Durlauf & Yannis M. Ioannides, 2010. "Social Interactions," Annual Review of Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 2(1), pages 451-478, September.
    6. Nicole Schneeweis & Martina Zweimüller, 2014. "Early Tracking and the Misfortune of Being Young," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 116(2), pages 394-428, April.
    7. Edwin Leuven & Marte Rønning, 2016. "Classroom Grade Composition and Pupil Achievement," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 126(593), pages 1164-1192, June.
    8. Lorraine Dearden & John Micklewright & Anna Vignoles, 2011. "The Effectiveness of English Secondary Schools for Pupils of Different Ability Levels," Fiscal Studies, Institute for Fiscal Studies, vol. 32(2), pages 225-244, June.
    9. Elizabeth U. Cascio & Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach, 2016. "First in the Class? Age and the Education Production Function," Education Finance and Policy, MIT Press, vol. 11(3), pages 225-250, Summer.
    10. Gibbons, Stephen & Machin, Stephen & Silva, Olmo, 2013. "Valuing school quality using boundary discontinuities," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 75(C), pages 15-28.
    11. Timothy J. Halliday & Sally Kwak, 2007. "Bad Apples, Goody Two Shoes and Average Joes: The Role of Peer Group Definitions in Estimation of Peer Effects," Working Papers 200730, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Department of Economics.
    12. Olof Åslund & Per-Anders Edin & Peter Fredriksson & Hans Grönqvist, 2011. "Peers, Neighborhoods, and Immigrant Student Achievement: Evidence from a Placement Policy," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 3(2), pages 67-95, April.
    13. Machin, Stephen, 2011. "Houses and schools: Valuation of school quality through the housing market," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(6), pages 723-729.
    14. Stephen Gibbons & Olmo Silva & Felix Weinhardt, 2010. "Do Neighbours Affect Teenage Outcomes? Evidence from Neighbourhood Changes in England," SERC Discussion Papers 0063, Spatial Economics Research Centre, LSE.
    15. Robert Bifulco & Jason Fletcher & Stephen Ross, 2008. "The Effect of Classmate Characteristics on Individual Outcomes: Evidence from the Add Health," Working papers 2008-21, University of Connecticut, Department of Economics, revised Jan 2009.
    16. repec:pit:wpaper:396 is not listed on IDEAS
    17. Arlen Guarín & Carlos Medina & Christian Posso, 2017. "Calidad y Cobertura de la Educación Secundaria Pública y Privada en Colombia, y sus Costos Ocultos," Borradores de Economia 1006, Banco de la Republica de Colombia.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I2 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education
    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity

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