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

Author

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  • Marc Piopiunik

    ()

  • Martin Schlotter

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Marc Piopiunik & Martin Schlotter, 2012. "Identifying the Incidence of "Grading on a Curve": A Within-Student Across-Subject Approach," ifo Working Paper Series 121, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich.
  • Handle: RePEc:ces:ifowps:_121
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    File URL: http://www.cesifo-group.de/DocDL/IfoWorkingPaper-121.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Elsner, Benjamin & Isphording, Ingo E., 2015. "Rank, Sex, Drugs, and Crime," IZA Discussion Papers 9478, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    2. Sybille Lehwald, 2013. "Has the Euro changed business cycle synchronization? Evidence from the core and the periphery," Empirica, Springer;Austrian Institute for Economic Research;Austrian Economic Association, vol. 40(4), pages 655-684, November.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Teacher grading; grading on a curve; learning incentives;

    JEL classification:

    • I20 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - General

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