Jack-of-all-subjects? The association between individual grade variance and educational attainment
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionSandsør, A. M. J. (2020). Jack-of-all-subjects? The association between individual grade variance and educational attainment. Economics of Education Review, 75, 1-13. 10.1016/j.econedurev.2020.101969
This paper uses detailed register information on students in lower secondary school in Norway to study the importance of the second moment of individual grade distribution: grade variance. Students receive discrete-value grades from 1 to 6 in the same 13 subjects, and the grade point average (GPA) is used to determine entrance into upper secondary school. This leads to a limited number of possible GPA values and the within-GPA-value variation in grades is used to investigate the association between grade variance and educational attainment. Grade variance is found to be negatively associated with educational attainment across the grade distribution and for both genders. US data confirm this finding. Results suggests that being a generalist with similar skills across subjects predicts educational attainment and that educational institutions may benefit from considering more than just grade point average when making admission decisions.