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Is Entering a Selective School the Ultimate Goal or Just a Start? The Effect of Ordinal Rank on Academic Achievement and College Quality in a Selective Secondary School

Koji Isozumi, Hirotake Ito, Makiko Nakamuro and Shintaro Yamaguchi

Discussion papers from Research Institute of Economy, Trade and Industry (RIETI)

Abstract: Using administrative data from one of the most selective secondary schools in Japan, this paper shows that students’ ordinal rank in their first exam at the school has a significant positive effect not only on their subsequent test scores but also on the quality of the college by which they are accepted after school. This may explain why students with a lower rank based on the exams in their early days of school life remain low achievers in later school years, which is referred to as the "deep-sea-fish" phenomenon. The results imply that attending a selective school should not be the ultimate goal because achieving a good grade in the first exam after enrollment is important for subsequent accomplishment.

Pages: 22 pages
Date: 2021-10
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