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ERIC Number: ED530040
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2009-Jan
Pages: 53
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 47
ISSN: ISSN-2045-6557
What Makes a Test Score? The Respective Contributions of Pupils, Schools and Peers in Achievement in English Primary Education. CEE DP 102
Kramarz, Francis; Machin, Stephen; Ouazad, Amine
Centre for the Economics of Education (NJ1)
What makes a test score? There is a great deal of uncertainty surrounding the exact contribution of school quality, pupil background, and peers in educational achievement. If peers make most of the difference, then diversity and heterogeneous classrooms may narrow the gap between high- and low-performing students. If pupil background is the first determinant of achievement, then targeting pupils and families may reduce inequalities. If schools make most of the difference, then school quality should be a policy priority. The educational literature in the U.K. and in the U.S. has long argued that schools make less difference than individual determinants or peers. However, most of these analyses relied on fairly basic measures of school quality, such as schools' financial resources. In this paper, we estimate the respective contributions of pupils, schools and peers without relying on proxies for school quality. We estimate the contribution of each school and pupil to Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 test scores. We also estimate peer effects, that is, the effect of ethnic groups, of special needs students, of free school meal students, and boys on individual achievement. The paper suggests that most of educational inequalities are pupil-specific inequalities. The variance of test scores is mostly explained by the pupil effect. School quality is the second determinant of educational achievement. Finally, peer effects are significant but explain a small share of overall inequalities at ages 7 and 11. The paper also shows that test scores and value-added as published in the league tables are not an accurate measure of school quality. Value-added at Key Stage 2 cannot be entirely attributed to school quality. Our paper provides methods that may lead to better and more precise estimates of school quality. Appended are: (1) Identification of The Current and Past School Effects Model; and (2) Estimation of the Model with Current and Past School and Pupil Effects (Specification 4). (Contains 16 tables, 2 figures and 17 footnotes.)
Centre for the Economics of Education. London School of Economics and Political Science, Houghton Street, London, WC2A 2AE, UK. Tel: +44-20-7955-7673; Fax: +44-20-7955-7595; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Elementary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: Department for Children, Schools and Families
Authoring Institution: London School of Economics & Political Science, Centre for the Economics of Education
Identifiers - Location: United Kingdom (England)