Panel Paper: The Effect of Nationwide Testing on Student Achievement

Friday, November 7, 2014 : 10:55 AM
Dona Ana (Convention Center)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Simon Calmar Andersen and Helena Skyt Nielsen, Aarhus University
This paper estimates the impact of standardized testing on student achievement in an educational environment where students are not used to being tested or graded, and where accountability pressure is extremely low in an international comparison. We study a set of compulsory IT-based, adaptive and self-scoring tests, which were implemented for the first time in Danish public schools in 2010. We exploit an unanticipated two-week crash of the IT-system to identify the impact of test exposure on future academic performance. We focus on the impact of being tested in reading and math on future academic performance in reading and math. However, we also investigate the effect across subjects and within school cohorts in order to make inference about the mechanisms at play. Our study suggests substantial beneficial effects of testing across the student population. For the youngest cohorts, the effects are suggestive of learning effects, which are not only due to teaching-to-the-test. For the older cohorts, also spillover effects across subjects are at play which suggests beneficial effects of being acquainted with the test situation. We interpret our findings as supportive of frequent nationwide testing.