Does the teacher beat the test? The additional value of the teacher's assessment in predicting student ability

Eva Feron, Trudie Schils*, Bas ter Weel

*Corresponding author for this work

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This research investigates to what extent the subjective teacher's assessment of children's ability predicts children's outcomes in the transition from primary to secondary school in terms of initial track allocation, track switching in the first three years of secondary education and subsequent test scores. We apply micro-data from the Netherlands about cognitive test scores and teacher's assessment in primary schools and about track placement, track switching and test scores in secondary schools. Our estimates suggest that the subjective teacher's assessment is about twice as important as the primary school cognitive test scores for initial track placement in secondary school. In addition, the teacher's assessment is more predictive of track allocation in 9th grade compared to cognitive test scores. Next, children who switch tracks are more likely to be placed in tracks based on test scores. Also, test scores in 9th grade are predicted by the subjective teacher's assessment, not by test scores in 6th grade.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)391-418
Number of pages28
JournalDe Economist
Issue number4
Early online date2016
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2016


  • Education
  • Assessment measures
  • Tracking
  • RACE
  • ME

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