The Department of Economics Applied Microeconomics and Econometrics Seminar Series presents

"In a Small Moment: Cheating and Class Size in Italian Primary Schools"
with Josh Angrist, Professor of Economics, MIT

April 22, 2014
3:30-5:00 p.m.
Social Science Plaza A, Room 3132

Using a Maimonides-Rule identification strategy based on class-size cutoffs around 25, Angrist documents an apparent achievement payoff to smaller classes in Italian primary schools. These gains are driven mainly by schools in Southern Italy, suggesting a substantial return to class size for relatively poor residents of the Mezzogiorno. In addition to low SES, however, the Mezzogiorno is distinguished by pervasive manipulation of standardized test scores, either by cheating or by shirking, a result established using an experiment randomly assigning school monitors. He uses Italy's Maimonides Rule to show that small classes increase score manipulation. Estimates of a causal model for achievement with two endogenous variables, class size and score manipulation, suggest that the effects of class size on measured achievement are driven entirely by the relationship between class size and manipulation. An item-level analysis shows dishonest scoring to be a consequence of teacher shirking more than cheating. These findings show how score manipulation can arise even in assessment systems with few accountability concerns.

For further information, please contact Jennifer dos Santos, or 949-824-5788.

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