NEW UPDATE: Completed trials may now upload and register supplementary documents (e.g. null results reports, populated pre-analysis plans, or post-trial results reports) in the Post Trial section under Reports, Papers, & Other Materials.
Adjusting Your Dreams? High School Plans and Dropout Behavior
Initial registration date
September 05, 2014
September 05, 2014 10:19 AM EDT
Other Primary Investigator(s)
Additional Trial Information
At the end of middle school, many low-achieving students have to abandon hope of getting into selective high-school programs, which may be a source of disengagement and eventually lead them to drop out of high school. Based on a randomized controlled trial, this paper shows that low-achievers can be helped to formulate educational objectives that fit better with their academic aptitudes, through a series of meetings facilitated by the school principals. By affecting high school plans of the less realistic fraction of students, the intervention is able to reduce grade repetition and high-school dropout by 25% to 40%.
Goux, Dominique, Marc Gurgand and Eric Maurin. 2014. "Adjusting Your Dreams? High School Plans and Dropout Behavior." AEA RCT Registry. September 05.
The intervention consists of two parent meetings facilitated by school principals and targeted at low-achieving students that aim to induce students and their families to adopt more realistic expectations and to improve the information level of families regarding the track choice set and related outcomes after 9th grade. It also aims at involving parents from low social background into the decision, and not let their children alone in face of those difficult decisions.
The cost of this program is mostly related to the conception and the production of guidelines and DVDs. These are mostly fixed costs that hardly increase with the scope of the program. The schools did not receive a specific budget for this program. As the intervention consists of two collective two-hour meetings, the opportunity cost of the school principal’s time is limited to a few hours, plus the time to contact parents.
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date
Primary Outcomes (end points)
Dropout, track choices and status one and two years after treatment, repetition, peer network, absenteism, discipline, school results.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Each student's friend network (within his/her classroom) was constructed from a sports teacher questionnaire. For each student, the teacher was asked to give four of his/her closest friend.
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
Partial randomization design in which a group of low achieving students were identified by the principals within each class before randomization. Then the classes were randomized and only families of pre-selected students were invited to the meetings.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization done in office by a computer
Was the treatment clustered?
Sample size: planned number of clusters
179 classes in 37 schools
Sample size: planned number of observations
4,291 Students, of which 1,130 pre-selected
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
97 in treatment, 82 in control
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
18.5% standard deviation.
INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARDS (IRBs)
Comité d'éthique de J-PAL Europe
IRB Approval Date
Post Trial Information
Is the intervention completed?
Intervention Completion Date
April 30, 2011, 12:00 AM +00:00
Is data collection complete?
Data Collection Completion Date
December 31, 2012, 12:00 AM +00:00
Final Sample Size: Number of Clusters (Unit of Randomization)
179 classes in 37 middle schools
Was attrition correlated with treatment status?
Final Sample Size: Total Number of Observations
4,291 students, of which 1,130 pre-selected
Final Sample Size (or Number of Clusters) by Treatment Arms
97 in treatment, 82 in control
Reports, Papers & Other Materials
At the end of middle school, many low-achieving students have to abandon hope of getting into selective high-school programs, which may be a source of disappointment and eventually lead them to drop out of education. Based on a randomized controlled trial, this paper shows that low-achieving students’ aspirations can be made more realistic through a series of meetings facilitated by the school principals, and that more realistic aspirations are followed by a significant reduction in grade repetition and high-school dropout. Building on detailed information on friendship networks within classes, we also find evidence that treatment outcomes include improved social interactions between low-achieving students and their high-achieving classmates.
Adjusting Your Dreams? The Effect of School and Peers on Dropout Behaviour, D. Goux, M. Gurgand, E. Maurin, IZA Working paper 7948, 2014.
REPORTS & OTHER MATERIALS