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Taking PISA Seriously: How Accurate are Low Stakes Exams?

Ş. Pelin Akyol, Kala Krishna, Jinwen Wang

NBER Working Paper No. 24930
Issued in August 2018, Revised in April 2019
NBER Program(s):Development Economics, Economics of Education, Labor Studies

PISA is seen as the gold standard for evaluating educational outcomes worldwide. Yet, being a low-stakes exam, students may not take it seriously resulting in downward biased scores and inaccurate rankings. This paper provides a method to identify and account for non-serious behavior in low-stakes exams by leveraging information in computer-based assessments in PISA 2015. When skipped items are given a zero score, we show that this bias is large: most countries increase their scores significantly had their students been serious. A country can rise up to 15 places in rankings if its students took the exam seriously.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w24930

 
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