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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.

Suggested Citation

  • Esther Duflo & Pascaline Dupas & Michael Kremer, 2008. "Peer Effects, Teacher Incentives, and the Impact of Tracking: Evidence from a Randomized Evaluation in Kenya," NBER Working Papers 14475, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:14475
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Abhijit Banerjee & Shawn Cole & Esther Duflo & Leigh Linden, 2005. "Remedying education: Evidence from two randomized experiments in india," Framed Field Experiments 00122, The Field Experiments Website.
    2. Abhijit V. Banerjee & Shawn Cole & Esther Duflo & Leigh Linden, 2007. "Remedying Education: Evidence from Two Randomized Experiments in India," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 122(3), pages 1235-1264.
    3. Weili Ding & Steven F. Lehrer, 2007. "Do Peers Affect Student Achievement in China's Secondary Schools?," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 89(2), pages 300-312, May.
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    5. Jörn-Steffen Pischke & Alan Manning, 2006. "Comprehensive versus Selective Schooling in England in Wales: What Do We Know?," NBER Working Papers 12176, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    11. 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, vol. 97(2), pages 104-107, May.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I20 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - General
    • O1 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development

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