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

  • Marc Piopiunik

    ()

  • Martin Schlotter

Theoretical work shows that grading on a curve, i.e., teachers assessing students relativeto their classmates, can negatively affect students’ learning effort. However, little isknown about its empirical incidence. To overcome bias from non-random sorting andomitted variables like teachers’ grading standards, we exploit within-student acrosssubjectvariation observing both teacher-assigned grades and test scores of German4th-graders in reading and math. We find that having classmates with one standarddeviation higher test scores lowers a student’s grade by about 10 percent of a standarddeviation. Importantly, only female teachers grade on a curve and there is no associationbetween students’ learning effort and relative grading.

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File URL: http://www.cesifo-group.de/portal/page/portal/DocBase_Content/WP/WP-Ifo_Working_Papers/wp-ifo-2012/IfoWorkingPaper-121.pdf
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Paper provided by Ifo Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich in its series Ifo Working Paper Series with number Ifo Working Paper No. 121.

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Date of creation: 2012
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Handle: RePEc:ces:ifowps:_121
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  1. Eric A. Hanushek & Ludger Woessmann, 2010. "The Economics of International Differences in Educational Achievement," NBER Working Papers 15949, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. 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.
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  7. 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.
  8. Orley Ashenfelter & Alan Krueger, 1992. "Estimates of the Economic Return to Schooling from a New Sample of Twins," Working Papers 683, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  9. 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.
  10. Thomas S. Dee, 2005. "Teachers and the Gender Gaps in Student Achievement," NBER Working Papers 11660, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Bonesronning, Hans, 1999. "The variation in teachers' grading practices: causes and consequences," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 18(1), pages 89-106, February.
  12. David N. Figlio & Maurice E. Lucas, 2000. "Do High Grading Standards Affect Student Performance?," NBER Working Papers 7985, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Hendrik Jürges & Kerstin Schneider, 2007. "What Can Go Wrong Will Go Wrong: Birthday Effects and Early Tracking in the German School System," CESifo Working Paper Series 2055, CESifo Group Munich.
  14. Johannes Metzler & Ludger Woessmann, 2010. "The Impact of Teacher Subject Knowledge on Student Achievement: Evidence from Within-Teacher Within-Student Variation," CESifo Working Paper Series 3111, CESifo Group Munich.
  15. Bishop, John, 2006. "Drinking from the Fountain of Knowledge: Student Incentive to Study and Learn - Externalities, Information Problems and Peer Pressure," Handbook of the Economics of Education, Elsevier.
  16. Chamberlain, Gary, 1982. "Multivariate regression models for panel data," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 18(1), pages 5-46, January.
  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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