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Can Testing Improve Student Learning? An Evaluation of the Mathematics Diagnostic Testing Project

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  • Julian R. Betts
  • Youjin Hahn
  • Andrew C. Zau

Abstract

Unlike state-mandated achievement tests, tests from the Mathematics Diagnostic Testing Project (MDTP) offer teachers timely and detailed feedback on their students’ achievement. We identify the effects of providing feedback on student outcomes by using data from the San Diego Unified School District, a large urban school district where mandatory diagnostic tests in mathematics were implemented to some grades between 6 and 9 during 1999 and 2006. These diagnostic tests offer teachers timely and detailed feedback on their students’ achievement. We find that providing diagnostic feedback improves math test scores by 0.1 to 0.2 standard deviations. All students gain from this mandated testing, but those with higher initial achievement gain the most. The gains arise in part from students being more accurately tracked into appropriate math classes. The gains decay unless students are tested repeatedly.

Suggested Citation

  • Julian R. Betts & Youjin Hahn & Andrew C. Zau, 2015. "Can Testing Improve Student Learning? An Evaluation of the Mathematics Diagnostic Testing Project," Monash Economics Working Papers 31-15, Monash University, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:mos:moswps:2015-31
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Diagnostic testing; student learning; education;

    JEL classification:

    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education

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