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ERIC Number: ED567034
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2016
Pages: 9
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 11
The Benefits of Being a Big Fish: The Relationship between Incoming Rank and Student Outcomes
Allensworth, Elaine M.; Moore, Paul T.; Sartain, Lauren; de la Torre, Marisa
Society for Research on Educational Effectiveness
In an era of expansive school choice, families and students make many comparisons when they consider schools. Policies encourage families to seek out options where average test scores are high or where value-added indicators are strong. When students choose schools with high-performing peers, they often may be at a lower place in the achievement distribution in their cohort than if they had attended their neighborhood school. The purpose of this study is to understand how a student's place in the achievement distribution of incoming ninth graders affects his/her outcomes. If high schools assign students to classes or tracks based on prior test scores, then students might have very different high school experiences based on their own achievement but also the achievement level of their ninth-grade peers. In this study, the authors specifically answer the following questions: (1) What is the relationship between a student's place in the achievement distribution of his/her high school cohort of ninth graders (i.e., incoming class rank) and high school and college academic outcomes? (2) Does the effect of incoming class rank vary for different types of students? At schools with varying levels of performance? This study uses data on four cohorts of students enrolling as first-time ninth graders in Chicago public high schools from fall 2008 to fall 2011, totaling 72,613 students. The sample is limited to students who attended CPS in eighth grade and enrolled in CPS for ninth grade. The authors use administrative data from CPS, a survey measure of student self-reports of study habits in middle school, and college-going information from the National Student Clearinghouse (NSC). Student data are linked across administrative data sets and years using a unique student-level identifier. Being at the top of the class appears to have benefits in terms of test score gains and slightly higher grades, as well as a higher likelihood of enrolling in and persisting in college. There were small negative attendance and high school graduation effects. Two tables are appended.
Society for Research on Educational Effectiveness. 2040 Sheridan Road, Evanston, IL 60208. Tel: 202-495-0920; Fax: 202-640-4401; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: High Schools; Secondary Education; Grade 9; Junior High Schools; Middle Schools
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: Society for Research on Educational Effectiveness (SREE)
Identifiers - Location: Illinois (Chicago)