Improving the Signal Quality of Grades

77 Pages Posted: 3 Apr 2021 Last revised: 22 Jun 2021

See all articles by Adam Chilton

Adam Chilton

University of Chicago - Law School

Peter A. Joy

Washington University in St. Louis - School of Law

Kyle Rozema

Washington University in St. Louis - School of Law

James Thomas

Federal Trade Commission

Date Written: March 22, 2021

Abstract

We investigate how improving the signal quality of grades could enhance the matching of students to selective opportunities that are awarded early in academic programs. To do so, we develop methods to measure the signal quality of grades and to estimate the impact of changes to university policies on the identification of exceptional students for these opportunities. We focus on law schools, a setting where students are awarded important academic and professional opportunities after just one year of a three-year program. Using transcript data from one top law school over a 40-year period, we document large gains in identifying exceptional students if reasonable changes were made to certain personnel, course, and grading policies. Our findings provide motivation and a blueprint for how universities could leverage their internal records to ensure that fewer exceptional students miss out on selective opportunities.

Suggested Citation

Chilton, Adam and Joy, Peter A. and Rozema, Kyle and Thomas, James, Improving the Signal Quality of Grades (March 22, 2021). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3810265 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3810265

Adam Chilton

University of Chicago - Law School ( email )

1111 E. 60th St.
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.adamchilton.org

Peter A. Joy

Washington University in St. Louis - School of Law ( email )

Campus Box 1120
St. Louis, MO 63130
United States
313-935-6445 (Phone)

Kyle Rozema (Contact Author)

Washington University in St. Louis - School of Law ( email )

Campus Box 1120
St. Louis, MO 63130
United States

James Thomas

Federal Trade Commission ( email )

600 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Washington, DC 20580
United States

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