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The Long-term Consequences of Teacher Discretion in Grading of High-stakes Tests

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  • Rebecca Diamond
  • Petra Persson

Abstract

We examine the long-term consequences of teacher discretion in grading of high-stakes tests. Bunching in Swedish math test score distributions reveal that teachers inflate students who have “a bad test day,” but do not to discriminate based on immigrant status or gender. By developing a new estimator, we show that receiving a higher grade leads to far-reaching educational and earnings benefits. Because grades do not directly raise human capital, these results emphasize that grades can signal to students and teachers within the educational system, and suggest important dynamic complementarities between students’ effort and their perception of their own ability.

Suggested Citation

  • Rebecca Diamond & Petra Persson, 2016. "The Long-term Consequences of Teacher Discretion in Grading of High-stakes Tests," NBER Working Papers 22207, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:22207
    Note: ED LS PE
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Edmark, Karin & Frölich, Markus & Wondratschek, Verena, 2014. "Sweden's school choice reform and equality of opportunity," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(C), pages 129-142.
    2. Victor Lavy, 2009. "Performance Pay and Teachers' Effort, Productivity, and Grading Ethics," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(5), pages 1979-2011, December.
    3. Ahlin, Åsa, 2003. "Does School Competition Matter? Effects of a Large-Scale School Choice Reform on Student Performance," Working Paper Series 2003:2, Uppsala University, Department of Economics.
    4. Krueger, Alan B & Whitmore, Diane M, 2001. "The Effect of Attending a Small Class in the Early Grades on College-Test Taking and Middle School Test Results: Evidence from Project STAR," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 111(468), pages 1-28, January.
    5. Jacob, Brian A., 2005. "Accountability, incentives and behavior: the impact of high-stakes testing in the Chicago Public Schools," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(5-6), pages 761-796, June.
    6. Persson, Petra, 2015. "Social insurance and the marriage market," Working Paper Series 2015:6, IFAU - Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy.
    7. Talia Bar & Vrinda Kadiyali & Asaf Zussman, 2009. "Grade Information and Grade Inflation: The Cornell Experiment," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 23(3), pages 93-108, Summer.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I20 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - General
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity

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