What is essential is visible to the eye. Saliency in primary school ranking and its effect on academic achievements

66 Pages Posted: 28 Dec 2022 Last revised: 18 Jan 2024

Date Written: November 1, 2022

Abstract

We propose a new strategy to identify the impact of class rank, exploiting a ``visible'' primary school rank from teachers' exam grades, and an ``invisible'' rank from unreported standardized test scores. Leveraging a unique panel dataset on Italian students, we show that the visible rank has a substantial impact on students' perceptions, which affects subsequent academic performance. However, the effect of being surrounded by higher-SES or higher-achieving peers remains positive even accounting for the decrease in rank. Higher-ranked students self-select into high schools with higher average student achievements. Finally, exploiting an extensive survey, we identify psychological mechanisms channeling the rank effect.

Keywords: Rank, Inequality, Education, Human Capital, Peer Effect

JEL Classification: I21, I24, I26, J24

Suggested Citation

Ladant, François-Xavier and Hedou, Julien and Sestito, Paolo and Bargagli Stoffi, Falco, What is essential is visible to the eye. Saliency in primary school ranking and its effect on academic achievements (November 1, 2022). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4304178 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4304178

François-Xavier Ladant (Contact Author)

Harvard University ( email )

Cambridge, MA
United States

Northwestern University - Kellogg School of Management ( email )

2001 Sheridan Road
Evanston, IL 60208
United States

Julien Hedou

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Paolo Sestito

Bank of Italy ( email )

Via Nazionale 91
Rome, 00184
Italy

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