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Measuring Success in Education: The Role of Effort on the Test Itself

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Listed:
  • Uri Gneezy
  • John A. List
  • Jeffrey A. Livingston
  • Xiangdong Qin
  • Sally Sadoff
  • Yang Xu

Abstract

US students often rank poorly on standardized tests that estimate and compare educational achievements. We investigate whether this might reflect not only differences in ability but also differences in effort on the test. We experimentally offer students incentives to put forth effort in two US high schools and four Shanghai high schools. US students improve performance substantially in response to incentives, while Shanghai students—who are top performers on assessments—do not. These results raise the possibility that ranking countries based on low-stakes assessments may not reflect only differences in ability, but also motivation to perform well on the test.

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  • Uri Gneezy & John A. List & Jeffrey A. Livingston & Xiangdong Qin & Sally Sadoff & Yang Xu, 2019. "Measuring Success in Education: The Role of Effort on the Test Itself," American Economic Review: Insights, American Economic Association, vol. 1(3), pages 291-308, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aerins:v:1:y:2019:i:3:p:291-308
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/aeri.20180633
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Measuring success in education: the role of effort on the test itself
      by maximorossi in NEP-LTV blog on 2018-03-20 13:38:00

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    2. Filmer, Deon & Rogers, Halsey & Angrist, Noam & Sabarwal, Shwetlena, 2020. "Learning-adjusted years of schooling (LAYS): Defining a new macro measure of education," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 77(C).
    3. List, John A. & Samek, Anya & Suskind, Dana L., 2018. "Combining behavioral economics and field experiments to reimagine early childhood education," Behavioural Public Policy, Cambridge University Press, vol. 2(1), pages 1-21, May.
    4. Brunello, Giorgio & Crema, Angela & Rocco, Lorenzo, 2018. "Testing at Length If It Is Cognitive or Non-Cognitive," IZA Discussion Papers 11603, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    5. Charness, Gary & List, John A. & Rustichini, Aldo & Samek, Anya & Van De Ven, Jeroen, 2019. "Theory of mind among disadvantaged children: Evidence from a field experiment," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 166(C), pages 174-194.
    6. Noam Angrist & Peter Bergman & Moitshepi Matsheng, 2020. "School’s Out: Experimental Evidence on Limiting Learning Loss Using “Low-Tech” in a Pandemic," NBER Working Papers 28205, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Yong Cai, 2021. "Some Finite Sample Properties of the Sign Test," Papers 2103.01412, arXiv.org.
    8. Bernal, Gloria L. & Penney, Jeffrey, 2019. "Scholarships and student effort: Evidence from Colombia’s Ser Pilo Paga program," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 72(C), pages 121-130.
    9. Lucas Gortazar, 2019. "¿Favorece el sistema educativo español la igualdad de oportunidades?," Studies on the Spanish Economy eee2019-17, FEDEA.
    10. Isaac Mbiti & Karthik Muralidharan & Mauricio Romero & Youdi Schipper & Constantine Manda & Rakesh Rajani, 2019. "Inputs, Incentives, and Complementarities in Education: Experimental Evidence from Tanzania," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 134(3), pages 1627-1673.
    11. Iriberri, Nagore & Rey-Biel, Pedro, 2021. "Brave boys and play-it-safe girls: Gender differences in willingness to guess in a large scale natural field experiment," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 131(C).
    12. List, John A. & Livingston, Jeffrey A. & Neckermann, Susanne, 2018. "Do financial incentives crowd out intrinsic motivation to perform on standardized tests?," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 66(C), pages 125-136.
    13. Francesca Borgonovi & Alessandro Ferrara & Mario Piacentini, 2020. "From asking to observing. Behavioural measures of socio-emotional and motivational skills in large-scale assessments," DoQSS Working Papers 20-19, Quantitative Social Science - UCL Social Research Institute, University College London.

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C93 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Field Experiments
    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education
    • I26 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Returns to Education
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration
    • P36 - Economic Systems - - Socialist Institutions and Their Transitions - - - Consumer Economics; Health; Education and Training; Welfare, Income, Wealth, and Poverty

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