Many parents here have heard of the Big Fish Little Pond Effect, which suggests that average ability students may actually do better in a less-selective school.
But few are convinced. That is why when it comes to picking a school for their children, they tend to aim for top ones.
These parents believe their young ones will perform better academically if they attend school with other high-ability children.
But Australian Professor Andrew Martin, who will speak at the inaugural The Straits Times Education Forum on May 4, said parents should pay heed to the theory as it is "quite a consistent finding" across many countries, including Singapore.
He said: "Research into that effect has shown that a student's confidence depends not only on his own accomplishments, but also on the relative accomplishments of his classmates and schoolmates."
This means students who view themselves as having low or average ability will get a confidence booster at a school with average performance. The reverse is likely the case in a high-achieving school.
Parents should focus on getting their child into a school that will boost his confidence in his academic ability, advised Prof Martin, who is from the University of New South Wales in Australia, and other experts.
The Big Fish Little Pond Effect is just one of the topics that parents can learn more about in The Straits Times Education Forum.
Parents will hear from Education Minister Heng Swee Keat on how they can work with schools to support their children through their educational journey.
Following his speech, he will take part in a discussion on the changes being introduced in Singapore schools to deliver on the ministry's mantra that every school is a good school. The session will be moderated by Straits Times editor Warren Fernandez.
On why The Straits Times is organising the forum, Mr Fernandez said: "Education is a major concern of Singapore parents and a topic of great interest to ST readers.
"Many follow the reports and analyses by our ST education team closely to get insights into the latest developments in our schools. So having this forum enables us to add another dimension to our education coverage and serve our readers better."
National University of Singapore (NUS) undergraduate David Hoe, 26, will share what spurred him as a Normal (Technical) stream student to aim for university and a teaching career.
Parents who have more specific questions on choosing a primary school can also pose questions to Ms Genevieve Chye, who heads Montfort Junior School.
Those worried about the rising costs of education, especially at the university level, can ask for advice from Mr Stanz Tan, who has more than 20 years of experience in the financial industry. He is currently vice-president of Bancassurance at DBS.
Mr Derrick Goh, head of POSB, the presenting sponsor of the forum, said parents should be aware that education costs rise with time and learn to save smarter by leveraging on life insurance endowment plans, such as POSB MyEduPlan. The plan helps parents save for their children's higher education while offering them protection benefits.
Parents can sign up for the event from today at www.straitstimes.com/steduforum