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

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Abstract

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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  • Koerselman, Kristian, 2011. "Bias from the use of mean-based methods on test scores," Working Paper Series 1/2011, Stockholm University, Swedish Institute for Social Research.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhs:sofiwp:2011_001
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    File URL: http://www.sofi.su.se/content/1/c6/03/09/74/WP11no1.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Galindo-Rueda, Fernando, 2003. "Employer Learning and Schooling-Related Statistical Discrimination in Britain," Royal Economic Society Annual Conference 2003 82, Royal Economic Society.
    2. Eric A. Hanushek & Ludger Wössmann, 2006. "Does Educational Tracking Affect Performance and Inequality? Differences- in-Differences Evidence Across Countries," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 116(510), pages 63-76, March.
    3. Sari Pekkala Kerr & Tuomas Pekkarinen & Roope Uusitalo, 2013. "School Tracking and Development of Cognitive Skills," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 31(3), pages 577-602.
    4. 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 1739-1774, August.
    5. 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.
    6. Fabian Lange, 2007. "The Speed of Employer Learning," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 25, pages 1-35.
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    Cited by:

    1. Koerselman, Kristian, 2013. "Incentives from curriculum tracking," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 32(C), pages 140-150.
    2. Koerselman, Kristian, 2011. "Incentives from Curriculum Tracking: Cross-national and UK Evidence," Working Paper Series 3/2011, Stockholm University, Swedish Institute for Social Research.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    dmissible statistics; test scores; educational achievement; item response theory; IQ; PISA.;

    JEL classification:

    • C40 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods: Special Topics - - - General
    • I20 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - General
    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity

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