NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

NBER Working Papers by Courtney A. Collins

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Working Papers

February 2013Does Sorting Students Improve Scores? An Analysis of Class Composition
with Li Gan: w18848
This paper examines schools' decisions to sort students into different classes and how those sorting processes impact student achievement. There are two potential effects that result from schools creating homogeneous classes--a "tracking effect," which allows teachers to direct their focus to a more narrow range of students, and a peer effect, which causes a particular student's achievement to be influenced by the quality of peers in his classroom. In schools with homogeneous sorting, both the tracking effect and the peer effect should benefit high performing students. However, the effects would work in opposite directions for a low achieving student; he would benefit from the tracking effect, but the peer effect should decrease his score. This paper seeks to determine the net effect f...

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