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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.

Suggested Citation

  • 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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    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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