The Response to High-Stakes Testing in Chile: Did Schools Improve Learning or Merely Inflate Test Scores?

39 Pages Posted: 27 Jan 2017 Last revised: 21 Nov 2018

See all articles by Alvaro Hofflinger

Alvaro Hofflinger

Universidad de la Frontera

Paul von Hippel

University of Texas at Austin - Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs

Date Written: May 30, 2018

Abstract

High-stakes testing pressures schools to raise test scores, but schools respond to pressure in different ways. Some responses produce real, broad increases in learning, but other responses merely inflate average scores by narrowing instruction around tested skills and narrowing testing to high-performing students. We estimate the effect of an accountability program on reading scores, math scores, and teacher behavior in Chile. Over a six-year period, reading and math scores rose by 0.2 to 0.3 standard deviations, and half the rise was due to the accountability program. Responses to the program were mixed. Schools, especially schools serving disadvantaged students, inflated their accountability ratings by having up to 30 percent of low-performing students miss high-stakes tests. Teachers increased their preparation time, but they also narrowed their teaching. Teachers shifted focus toward test preparation at the expense of broader activities, such as debates, final projects, and presentations. Teachers focused on the tested subjects of reading and math at the expense of science, the arts, and morality. To encourage healthier responses to accountability, we recommend making tests broader and less predictable, setting accountability goals that are attainable for schools with disadvantaged students, and providing incentives for all students to take high-stakes tests.

Keywords: Education, Accountability, Missing Data

JEL Classification: H52, I22, I28

Suggested Citation

Hofflinger, Alvaro and von Hippel, Paul, The Response to High-Stakes Testing in Chile: Did Schools Improve Learning or Merely Inflate Test Scores? (May 30, 2018). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2906552 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2906552

Alvaro Hofflinger

Universidad de la Frontera ( email )

Temuco
Chile

Paul Von Hippel (Contact Author)

University of Texas at Austin - Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs ( email )

2315 Red River, Box Y
Austin, TX 78712
United States

Register to save articles to
your library

Register

Paper statistics

Downloads
117
rank
230,811
Abstract Views
574
PlumX Metrics