NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Heterogeneity in High Math Achievement Across Schools: Evidence from the American Mathematics Competitions

Glenn Ellison, Ashley Swanson

NBER Working Paper No. 18277
Issued in August 2012
NBER Program(s):   ED

This paper explores differences in the frequency with which students from different schools reach high levels of math achievement. Data from the American Mathematics Competitions is used to produce counts of high-scoring students from more than two thousand public, coeducational, non-magnet, non-charter U.S. high schools. High-achieving students are found to be very far from evenly distributed. There are strong demographic predictors of high achievement. There are also large differences among seemingly similar schools. The unobserved heterogeneity across schools includes a thick tail of schools that produce many more high-achieving students than the average school. Gender-related differences and other breakdowns are also discussed.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w18277

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