Research, reported by the BBC, has indicated that boys are much more likely than girls to be influenced by where they stand in ability in school. The research, completed by Richard Murphy and Felix Weinhardt at the London School of Economics, concluded that rank position within primary school has significant effects on later achievement, conditional on end-of-primary national test scores, with higher rank conditional on ability increases a pupil’s self-concept in that subject – this was most notable among boys than girls.
The study also found that pupils with low parental income background do not seem to additionally be hurt by low rank positions during primary education. Indeed, the study suggests that, to improve productivity, it would be optimal for teachers to highlight an individual’s local rank position if that individual had a high local rank. If an individual is in a high performing peer group and therefore may have a low local rank but a high global rank a manager should make the global rank more salient.
The researchers say that the advantage of being highly ranked in primary school is “equivalent to being taught by a highly effective teacher for one year”.
The implications for practice are profound here – it is a natural instinct for humans to make comparisons. “These comparisons are important because rank position effects an individual’s beliefs about themselves and their abilities”, the report argues.
[pullquote]Many teachers will rank their pupils, but whether those rankings are shared is another story.[/pullquote]Many teachers will rank their pupils, but whether those rankings are shared is another story. Many do not want to share the rankings to protect the feelings of ‘lower ability’ pupils. As the report suggests, managing this information with pupils in a careful, respectful manner may be key as pupils continue their educational journey.
The study explored pupils based in England, and the full report is available as a PDF to freely view. Click here.