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What do test scores really capture? Evidence from a large-scale student assessment in Mexico

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  • de Hoyos, Rafael
  • Estrada, Ricardo
  • Vargas, María José

Abstract

This paper studies the relationship between test scores and cognitive skills using two longitudinal data sets that track student performance in a national standardized exam in grades 6, 9, and 12 and post-secondary school outcomes in Mexico. Exploiting a large sample of twins to control for all between-family differences in school, household, and neighborhood inputs, we find that primary school test scores are a strong predictor of secondary education outcomes. Using a data set that links results in the national standardized test to later outcomes, we find that secondary school test scores predict university enrollment and hourly wages. These results indicate that, despite their limitations, large-scale student assessments can capture the skills they are meant to measure and can therefore be used to monitor student learning in developing countries.

Suggested Citation

  • de Hoyos, Rafael & Estrada, Ricardo & Vargas, María José, 2021. "What do test scores really capture? Evidence from a large-scale student assessment in Mexico," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 146(C).
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:wdevel:v:146:y:2021:i:c:s0305750x21001364
    DOI: 10.1016/j.worlddev.2021.105524
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    Cited by:

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    2. Gust, Sarah & Hanushek, Eric A. & Woessmann, Ludger, 2024. "Global universal basic skills: Current deficits and implications for world development," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 166(C).
    3. Vu, Tien Manh & Yamada, Hiroyuki, 2022. "Returns to test scores in Vietnam," MPRA Paper 111714, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    4. Padilla-Romo, María, 2022. "Full-time schools, policy-induced school switching, and academic performance," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 196(C), pages 79-103.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Standardized testing; Student learning; Education policy;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • I20 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - General
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity

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