The magic number: economic insights on achievement test scores

Research output: ThesisDoctoral ThesisInternal


Achievement test scores are often used to assess student performance in schools around the world. Decisions regarding school careers are often based on aggregate test scores and grades. These are also used by firms to sort job applicants and by researchers and policy makers to compare nations' performances. Education is the building block of human capital, which is of great importance for economic performance and nations' growth. Two assumptions are often made about achievement test scores. First, average test scores are taken as the best measure to capture student knowledge and what students have learned in school. Second, achievement test scores reflect cognitive skills only. However, research has shown this is a simplification. This thesis raises awareness regarding these assumptions and further contributes to deconstruct them. Chapter II studies the role of diversity of skills in school outcomes, such as track recommendation and student performance. Chapters III and IV focus on student effort and its impact on student performance.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Maastricht University
  • Borghans, Lex, Supervisor
  • Diris, L., Supervisor, External person
Award date14 Mar 2022
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • Achievement test scores
  • Skill diversity
  • Student effort
  • Achievement gaps

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