Pisa: What Makes the Difference? Explaining the Gap in Pisa Test Scores between Finland and Germany

33 Pages Posted: 13 Jun 2004 Last revised: 14 Aug 2008

See all articles by Andreas Ammermueller

Andreas Ammermueller

Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs

Date Written: 2004

Abstract

The huge difference in the level and variance of student performance in the 2000 PISA study between Finland and Germany motivates this paper. It analyses why Finnish students performed so much better by estimating educational production functions for both countries. The difference in the reading proficiency scores is assigned to different effects, using Oaxaca-Blinder and Juhn-Murphy-Pierce decomposition techniques. The analysis shows that German students have on average a more favorable background except for the lowest deciles, but experience much lower returns to these background characteristics in terms of test scores than Finnish students. The results imply that early streaming in Germany penalizes students in lower school types and leads to a greater inequality of educational achievement. It remains unclear, however, if this can be attributed to the effect of school types per se or student background and innate ability that determine the allocation process of students into school types. Overall, the variation in test scores can be explained much better by the observable characteristics in Germany than in Finland.

Keywords: PISA Test, Finland and Germany

JEL Classification: I21

Suggested Citation

Ammermueller, Andreas, Pisa: What Makes the Difference? Explaining the Gap in Pisa Test Scores between Finland and Germany (2004). ZEW - Centre for European Economic Research Discussion Paper No. 04-004, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=555954 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.555954

Andreas Ammermueller (Contact Author)

Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs ( email )

Berlin, 11017
Germany

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