IJERPH, Vol. 15, Pages 2750: Class-Level School Performance and Life Satisfaction: Differential Sensitivity for Low- and High-Performing School-Aged Children (International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health)
This study investigates whether class-level school performance affects students’ life satisfaction and if there are differential effects for high- and low-performing students. Data were derived from the National Educational Panel Study, including n = 5196 students (49.6% girls), nested in 478 classes and 250 secondary schools. School performance in class was measured by aggregating individual grade point average in Mathematics and German. The study could not reveal the “big-fish-little-pond”-effect regarding students’ life satisfaction but found differential effects for high- vs. low performing students. There was no significant association for low-performing students attending classes with higher class-level performance However, low-performing students revealed the lowest life satisfaction. High-performing students placed in classes with higher average performance reported lower life satisfaction compared to high-performing students in classes with lower average performance. This study provides evidence for the impact of the learning environment in class on school-aged children’s life satisfaction, by highlighting the differential sensitivity of high-performing students when placed in classes with higher or lower average performance.