The long-term consequences of teacher discretion in grading high stakes tests
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Rebecca Diamond and Petra Persson

In Scandinavia teachers are given substantial discretion in the grading of high-stakes tests, which essentially permits the manipulation of test scores by “bumping up” certain pupils. Teachers use this discretion to adjust the test scores of pupils who have ‘a bad test day’, but they do not discriminate based on gender or immigration status. 

This research found that such manipulation had far-reaching positive consequences for pupils, raising their grades in future classes, high school graduation rates, and college initiation rates; lowering teen birth rates; and raising earnings by 23.

They suggest that getting a higher grade on the test serves as an immediate signaling mechanism within the educational system, motivating pupils and teachers; this, in turn, raises the countries’ human capital.

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Rebecca Diamond and Petra Persson

Published by:
National Bureau of Economic Research

Date of publication:
April 2016

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This research explores the impact on pupils’ outcomes in school and the labour market if teachers are given discretion in marking high stakes tests, and may be of use to policy makers. 


Record ID:
R255 / 359
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