Ability, Gender, and Performance Standards: Evidence from Academic Probation

56 Pages Posted: 1 Sep 2008 Last revised: 4 Jul 2010

See all articles by Jason M. Lindo

Jason M. Lindo

Texas A&M University; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Nicholas J. Sanders

Cornell University - Department of Policy Analysis and Management

Philip Oreopoulos

University of Toronto - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR)

Date Written: August 2008

Abstract

We use a regression discontinuity design to examine students' responses to the negative incentive brought on by being placed on academic probation. Consistent with a model of introducing performance standards in which agents respond differently based on ability, we find that being placed on probation at the end of the first year discourages some students from returning to school while improving the performance of those who return. Contrary to the predictions of the model when ability is known, we find that heterogeneous discouragement effects result in high ability students having a greater overall dropout rate near the cutoff than lower ability students. The result can be explained by extending the model to allow for the performance standard to also affect self confidence (ability expectations). We also consider effects by gender and find that being placed on probation more than doubles the probability that men drop out but has no such discouragement effect for women.

Suggested Citation

Lindo, Jason M. and Sanders, Nicholas J. and Oreopoulos, Philip, Ability, Gender, and Performance Standards: Evidence from Academic Probation (August 2008). NBER Working Paper No. w14261. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1260584

Jason M. Lindo

Texas A&M University ( email )

Langford Building A
798 Ross St.
College Station, TX 77843-3137
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

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IZA Institute of Labor Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 7240
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Germany

Nicholas J. Sanders

Cornell University - Department of Policy Analysis and Management ( email )

Ithaca, NY
United States

HOME PAGE: http://njsanders.human.cornell.edu

Philip Oreopoulos (Contact Author)

University of Toronto - Department of Economics ( email )

150 St. George Street
Toronto, Ontario M5S 3G7
Canada

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR)

180 Dundas Street West, Suite 1400
Toronto, Ontario
Canada

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