The Causes and Consequences of Test Score Manipulation: Evidence from the New York Regents Examinations

67 Pages Posted: 11 Apr 2016

See all articles by Thomas Dee

Thomas Dee

Stanford University

Will Dobbie

Princeton University

Brian A. Jacob

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor

Jonah E. Rockoff

Columbia Business School - Finance and Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Date Written: April 2016

Abstract

In this paper, we show that the design and decentralized, school-based scoring of New York’s high school exit exams – the Regents Examinations – led to the systematic manipulation of test sores just below important proficiency cutoffs. Our estimates suggest that teachers inflate approximately 40 percent of test scores near the proficiency cutoffs. Teachers are more likely to inflate the scores of high-achieving students on the margin, but low-achieving students benefit more from manipulation in aggregate due to the greater density of these students near the proficiency cutoffs. Exploiting a series of reforms that eliminated score manipulation, we find that inflating a student’s score to fall just above a cutoff increases his or her probability of graduating from high school by 27 percent. These results have important implications for educational attainment of marginal high school graduates. For example, we estimate that the black-white graduation gap is about 5 percent larger in the absence of test score manipulation.

Suggested Citation

Dee, Thomas and Dobbie, Will and Jacob, Brian A. and Rockoff, Jonah E., The Causes and Consequences of Test Score Manipulation: Evidence from the New York Regents Examinations (April 2016). NBER Working Paper No. w22165. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2762072

Thomas Dee (Contact Author)

Stanford University ( email )

Will Dobbie

Princeton University ( email )

Brian A. Jacob

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor ( email )

500 S. State Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
United States

Jonah E. Rockoff

Columbia Business School - Finance and Economics ( email )

3022 Broadway
New York, NY 10027
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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