Am I the Big Fish? The Effects of Ordinal Rank on Student Academic Performance in Middle School

Authors: Han Yu Date: June 2019

The idea that through perseverance and hard work, one can achieve his or her dreams is a pervasive one. There is already an established literature that studies the link between relative achievement and individual outcomes, but findings on relative achievement in the classroom is rare. This article summarizes working paper 1811, where PERC Postdoctoral Associate Han Yu provides the first evidence from a developing country by studying the effects of academic class rank for 7th and 8th grade students from China. This paper also breaks new ground by providing the first direct evidence on the relationship between objective academic class rank and the rank perceived by students, as well as the impact of self-perceived rank on a student’s future academic attainments.

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Keywords: 1811, Education, ordinal rank, self perception, student outcomes