Education
Research insight
October 26, 2021

High-stake exams change teacher grading standards: evidence from a policy reform

Abstract


The introduction of high-stake standardized exams has been shown to be strongly associated with improvements in an average performance in international standardized assessments [Bergbauer et al., 2018] as well as with proficiency in mathematics and reading [Jacob and Lefgren, 2004]. Despite legitimate concerns with the incentives to teach to the exam and the limited set of skills under evaluation, the fact that idiosyncratic grading biases tend to vanish through the application of blind, anonymous evaluation mechanisms have ensured their validity and continuity in multiple education systems (OECD, 2013). By means of a difference-in-difference approach, we exploit a policy reform that introduced high-stakes exams at the end of the 6th grade in Portuguese and Mathematics, in Portugal, for a short period of 4 years. We study how the introduction of these high-stake exams changed teacher grading standards and teacher scores distribution. We find that teachers in courses covered by external high-stakes exams tend to give a significantly higher percentage of failing scores and a significantly lower percentage of higher scores, an effect which shows to be stronger for Mathematics and not homogeneous for male and female students.

Access this paper here

Pedro Freitas

Pedro Freitas

PhD Candidate at Nova SBE

Website
4. Quality education
Education
Opinion Article
SDG
4
8

Have you ever heard about Switzerland?

Finland, Norway, Sweden, all these countries are seen as the dream country to raise your children, but have you ever heard about Switzerland? I’m not talking about its chocolate, inventors, or its capability to shelter its entire human population in nuclear fallout shelters in the event of nuclear war; in fact, what is more, intriguing it’s their education system and the possibility of it being strongly related to the Swiss economy.

Learn more
Education
Project
SDG
4
10

Early identification of students at risk of school success/failure in the 1st cycle of Basic Education

The educational institutions aim to define specific strategic plans and interventions that intend to promote success and prevent failure, requiring the necessary information to identify the students in need of these types of interventions.

Learn more
Education
Project
SDG
4
8
10

Mentes Empreendedoras

Mentes Empreendedoras was created to foster a generation of impact citizens and leaders able to transform themselves and their communities.

Learn more