National Evidence on the Test Score Performance Effects of Structural Switching

48 Pages Posted: 5 Mar 2018 Last revised: 9 Nov 2018

See all articles by Richard DiSalvo

Richard DiSalvo

Princeton University - Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs

Date Written: November 8, 2018

Abstract

How does grade configuration affect student performance? I use recent national district-by-grade data on rates of school switching induced by grade configuration (i.e. rates of structural switching) and test performance to bring new evidence to this question. Past research has found that student performance is on average relatively low following structural switches, but in fact students relatively overperform in the grades just prior to these switches. In my national sample, I find that this so-called "top-dog/bottom-dog" pattern appears for all terminal grade choices among grades 3 through 8, is geographically widespread, and is robust to controlling for grade-specific effects of a rich set of covariates. Thus I add strong evidence to the literature that these relationships are caused by the grade configuration policy, rather than being due to careful selection. I explore potential mechanisms and discuss policy and research implications.

Keywords: School reform, grade span, grade configuration, student achievement

JEL Classification: I21, I28, H52

Suggested Citation

DiSalvo, Richard, National Evidence on the Test Score Performance Effects of Structural Switching (November 8, 2018). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3119481 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3119481

Richard DiSalvo (Contact Author)

Princeton University - Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs ( email )

Princeton University
Princeton, NJ 08544-1021
United States

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