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Don’t Know or Don’t Care?

Education Next – Jay P. Greene

“When we examine the results of standardized test scores we typically think we are seeing evidence of what students know. As it turns out, that is only partially right. Test scores capture both what students know as well as their willingness to exert effort to show us what they know. A new paper by my colleagues, Gema Zamarro, Collin Hitt, and Ildefonso Mendez uses multiple, novel techniques to demonstrate that between 32% and 38% of the variation in PISA test performance across countries can be explained by how much effort students are willing to exert rather than what they know. The implications of this finding for ed reform are huge. When we see low test score performance we are often misdiagnosing the problem as poor content instruction when it may in fact be insufficient development of student character skills. If we focus all of our energy on the former without addressing the later, we’ll fail to make as much progress.”(more)

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