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Does Rank-Order Grading Improve Student Performance? Evidence from a Classroom Experiment

Todd Cherry and Larry Ellis

International Review of Economic Education, 2005, vol. 4, issue 1, 9-19

Abstract: This paper reports results from a unique classroom experiment that explored the potential of using rank-order grading to improve student performance and learning. Findings suggest that student performance is significantly improved when facing a grading system based on student ranking (norm-reference grading) rather than performance standards (criterion-reference grading). The improved outcomes from rank-order grading largely arise among the high performers, but not at the expense of low performers. Results indicate rank-ordering may eliminate the incentive for high performing students to "stop" once they achieve a stated objective, while not diminishing the incentive for lower performing students.

Date: 2005
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Working Paper: Does Rank-Order Grading Improve Student Performance: Evidence from a Classroom Experiment (2004)
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