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Bias from the use of mean-based methods on test scores

Economists regularly regress IQ scores or achievement test scores on covariates, for example to evaluate educational policy. These test scores are ordinal measures, and their distributions can take an arbitrary shape, even though they are often constructed to look normal. The ordinality of test scores makes the use of mean-based methods such as OLS is inappropriate: estimates are not robust to changes in test score estimation assumptions and methods. I simulate the magnitude of robustness problems, and show that in practice, problems with mean-based regression of normally distributed test scores are small. Even so, test score distributions with more exotic shapes will need to be transformed before use.

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Paper provided by Swedish Institute for Social Research in its series Working Paper Series with number 1/2011.

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Length: 23 pages
Date of creation: 03 Jan 2011
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:hhs:sofiwp:2011_001
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  1. Eric A. Hanushek & Ludger Wößmann, 2005. "Does Educational Tracking Affect Performance and Inequality? Differences-in-Differences Evidence across Countries," Ifo Working Paper Series Ifo Working Paper No. 1, Ifo Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich.
  2. Galindo-Rueda, Fernando, 2003. "Employer Learning and Schooling-Related Statistical Discrimination in Britain," Royal Economic Society Annual Conference 2003 82, Royal Economic Society.
  3. Esther Duflo & Pascaline Dupas & Michael Kremer, 2011. "Peer Effects, Teacher Incentives, and the Impact of Tracking: Evidence from a Randomized Evaluation in Kenya," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(5), pages 1739-74, August.
  4. Tuomas Pekkarinen & Roope Uusitalo & Sari Kerr, 2009. "School tracking and development of cognitive skills," Working Papers 2, Government Institute for Economic Research Finland (VATT).
  5. Fabian Lange, 2007. "The Speed of Employer Learning," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 25, pages 1-35.
  6. Richard J. Murnane & John B. Willett & Yves Duhaldeborde & John H. Tyler, 2000. "How important are the cognitive skills of teenagers in predicting subsequent earnings?," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 19(4), pages 547-568.
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