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How Performance Information Affects Human-Capital Investment Decisions: The Impact of Test-Score Labels on Educational Outcomes

  • John P. Papay
  • Richard J. Murnane
  • John B. Willett

Students receive abundant information about their educational performance, but how this information affects future educational-investment decisions is not well understood. Increasingly common sources of information are state-mandated standardized tests. On these tests, students receive a score and a label that summarizes their performance. Using a regression-discontinuity design, we find persistent effects of earning a more positive label on the college-going decisions of urban, low-income students. Consistent with a Bayesian-updating model, these effects are concentrated among students with weaker priors, specifically those who report before taking the test that they do not plan to attend a four-year college.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w17120.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 17120.

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Date of creation: Jun 2011
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:17120
Note: ED
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  1. Lee, David S. & Card, David, 2008. "Regression discontinuity inference with specification error," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 142(2), pages 655-674, February.
  2. Todd R. Stinebrickner & Ralph Stinebrickner, 2009. "Learning about Academic Ability and the College Drop-out Decision," NBER Working Papers 14810, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Guido Imbens & Thomas Lemieux, 2007. "Regression Discontinuity Designs: A Guide to Practice," NBER Working Papers 13039, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Hahn, Jinyong & Todd, Petra & Van der Klaauw, Wilbert, 2001. "Identification and Estimation of Treatment Effects with a Regression-Discontinuity Design," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 69(1), pages 201-09, January.
  5. David S. Lee & Thomas Lemieux, 2009. "Regression Discontinuity Designs In Economics," Working Papers 1118, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  6. Muramatsu, Roberta & Hanoch, Yaniv, 2005. "Emotions as a mechanism for boundedly rational agents: The fast and frugal way," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 26(2), pages 201-221, April.
  7. George A. Akerlof & Rachel E. Kranton, 2002. "Identity and Schooling: Some Lessons for the Economics of Education," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 40(4), pages 1167-1201, December.
  8. Joel L. Schrag, 1999. "First Impressions Matter: A Model Of Confirmatory Bias," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 114(1), pages 37-82, February.
  9. Kaufman, Bruce E., 1999. "Emotional arousal as a source of bounded rationality," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 38(2), pages 135-144, February.
  10. John Conlisk, 1996. "Why Bounded Rationality?," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 34(2), pages 669-700, June.
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