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What Makes a Test Score ? The Respective Contributions of Pupils, Schools and Peers in Achievement in English Primary Education

  • Francis Kramarz


  • Stephen Machin


  • Amine Ouazad


This study develops an analytical framework for evaluating the respective contributions of pupils,peers, and school quality in affecting educational achievement. We implement this frame-workusing rich data from England that matches pupils to their primary schools. The dataset records allEnglish pupils and their test scores in Key Stage 1 (age 7) and Key Stage 2 (age 11) nationalexaminations. The quality of the data source, coupled with our econometric techniques, allows us toassess the respective importance of different educational inputs. We can distinguish school effects,that affect all pupils irrespective of their year and grade of study, from school-grade-year effects.Identification of pupil effects separately from these school-grade-year effects is achieved becausestudents are mobile across schools. Peer effects are identified assuming variations in school-gradeyeargroup composition in adjacent years are exogenous. We estimate three different specifications,the most general allowing Key Stage 2 results to be affected by the Key Stage 1 school(-grade-year)at which the pupil studied. We discuss the validity of our various exogeneity assumptions.Estimation results show statistically significant pupil ability, school and peer effects. Our analysissuggests the following ranking: pupils' ability and background are more important than school timeinvariantinputs. Peer effects are significant, but small.

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Paper provided by Centre de Recherche en Economie et Statistique in its series Working Papers with number 2008-21.

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Length: 50
Date of creation: 2008
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:crs:wpaper:2008-21
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  1. Lorraine Dearden & Javier Ferri & Costas Meghir, 2000. "The effect of school quality on educational attainment and wages," IFS Working Papers W00/22, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  2. John M. Abowd & Francis Kramarz & David N. Margolis, 1994. "High-Wage Workers and High-Wage Firms," CIRANO Working Papers 94s-23, CIRANO.
  3. Eliana Garces & Duncan Thomas & Janet Currie, 2000. "Longer Term Effects of Head Start," Working Papers 00-20, RAND Corporation Publications Department.
  4. Victor Lavy & Analia Schlosser, 2011. "Mechanisms and Impacts of Gender Peer Effects at School," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 3(2), pages 1-33, April.
  5. Woodcock, Simon D., 2008. "Wage differentials in the presence of unobserved worker, firm, and match heterogeneity," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 15(4), pages 771-793, August.
  6. Gould, Eric D. & Lavy, Victor & Paserman, M. Daniele, 2005. "Does Immigration Affect the Long-Term Educational Outcomes of Natives? Quasi-Experimental Evidence," IZA Discussion Papers 1883, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  7. Caroline Hoxby, 2000. "Peer Effects in the Classroom: Learning from Gender and Race Variation," NBER Working Papers 7867, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Petra E. Todd & Kenneth I. Wolpin, 2003. "On The Specification and Estimation of The Production Function for Cognitive Achievement," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 113(485), pages F3-F33, February.
  9. Charles T. Clotfelter, 1999. "Are Whites Still "Fleeing"? Racial Patterns and Enrollment Shifts in Urban Public Schools, 1987-1996," NBER Working Papers 7290, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Eric A. Hanushek & Steven G. Rivkin, 2003. "Does Public School Competition Affect Teacher Quality?," NBER Chapters, in: The Economics of School Choice, pages 23-48 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Hanushek, Eric A, 1986. "The Economics of Schooling: Production and Efficiency in Public Schools," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 24(3), pages 1141-77, September.
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  14. Alan Krueger, 2000. "Economic Considerations and Class Size," Working Papers 826, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
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  17. Rosalind Levacic & Anna Vignoles, 2002. "Researching the Links between School Resources and Student Outcomes in the UK: A Review of Issues and Evidence," Education Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 10(3), pages 313-331.
  18. Joshua D. Angrist & Kevin Lang, 2002. "How Important are Classroom Peer Effects? Evidence from Boston's Metco Program," Upjohn Working Papers and Journal Articles 02-85, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.
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  22. Blundell, Richard & Robin, Jean Marc, 1999. "Estimation in Large and Disaggregated Demand Systems: An Estimator for Conditionally Linear Systems," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 14(3), pages 209-32, May-June.
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  29. John M. Abowd (corresponding) & Francis Kramarz, 2004. "Are Good Workers Employed by Good Firms? A Simple Test of Positive Assortative Matching Models," Econometric Society 2004 North American Winter Meetings 385, Econometric Society.
  30. Kenneth Y. Chay & Patrick J. McEwan & Miguel Urquiola, 2005. "The Central Role of Noise in Evaluating Interventions That Use Test Scores to Rank Schools," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(4), pages 1237-1258, September.
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