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Identifying the Incidence of "Grading on a Curve": A Within-Student Across-Subject Approach

Listed author(s):
  • Marc Piopiunik

    ()

  • Martin Schlotter

Theoretical work shows that grading on a curve, i.e., teachers assessing students relative to their classmates, can negatively affect students’ learning effort. However, little is known about its empirical incidence. To overcome bias from non-random sorting and omitted variables like teachers’ grading standards, we exploit within-student acrosssubject variation observing both teacher-assigned grades and test scores of German 4th-graders in reading and math. We find that having classmates with one standard deviation higher test scores lowers a student’s grade by about 10 percent of a standard deviation. Importantly, only female teachers grade on a curve and there is no association between students’ learning effort and relative grading.

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File URL: http://www.cesifo-group.de/DocDL/IfoWorkingPaper-121.pdf
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Paper provided by ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich in its series ifo Working Paper Series with number 121.

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Date of creation: 2012
Handle: RePEc:ces:ifowps:_121
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  1. Hanushek, Eric A. & Woessmann, Ludger, 2011. "The Economics of International Differences in Educational Achievement," Handbook of the Economics of Education, Elsevier.
  2. Metzler, Johannes & Woessmann, Ludger, 2012. "The impact of teacher subject knowledge on student achievement: Evidence from within-teacher within-student variation," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 99(2), pages 486-496.
  3. Betts, Julian R. & Grogger, Jeff, 2003. "The impact of grading standards on student achievement, educational attainment, and entry-level earnings," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 22(4), pages 343-352, August.
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  7. Hanushek, Eric A., 2002. "Publicly provided education," Handbook of Public Economics,in: A. J. Auerbach & M. Feldstein (ed.), Handbook of Public Economics, edition 1, volume 4, chapter 30, pages 2045-2141 Elsevier.
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  9. Figlio, David N. & Lucas, Maurice E., 2004. "Do high grading standards affect student performance?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(9-10), pages 1815-1834, August.
  10. Bonesronning, Hans, 1999. "The variation in teachers' grading practices: causes and consequences," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 18(1), pages 89-106, February.
  11. Thomas S. Dee, 2005. "A Teacher Like Me: Does Race, Ethnicity, or Gender Matter?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(2), pages 158-165, May.
  12. Thomas S. Dee, 2007. "Teachers and the Gender Gaps in Student Achievement," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 42(3).
  13. Ashenfelter, Orley & Krueger, Alan B, 1994. "Estimates of the Economic Returns to Schooling from a New Sample of Twins," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(5), pages 1157-1173, December.
  14. Hendrik Jürges & Kerstin Schneider, 2007. "What can go wrong will go wrong: Birthday effects and early tracking in the German school system," MEA discussion paper series 07138, Munich Center for the Economics of Aging (MEA) at the Max Planck Institute for Social Law and Social Policy.
  15. Chamberlain, Gary, 1982. "Multivariate regression models for panel data," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 18(1), pages 5-46, January.
  16. Joseph G. Altonji & Charles R. Pierret, 2001. "Employer Learning and Statistical Discrimination," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 116(1), pages 313-350.
  17. Pedro Landeras, 2009. "Student effort: standards vs. tournaments," Applied Economics Letters, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 16(9), pages 965-969.
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