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Cramming: Short- and Long-Run Effects

An administrative rule allowed students who failed an exam to retake it shortly after, triggering strong `teach to the test' incentives to raise these students' test scores for the retake. We develop a model that accounts for truncation and find that these students score 0.14 standard deviations higher on the retest. Using a regression discontinuity design, we estimate thirty percent of these gains persist to the following year. These results provide evidence that test-focused instruction or `cramming' raises contemporaneous performance, but a large portion of these gains fade-out. Our findings highlight that persistence should be accounted for when comparing educational interventions.

Fade-out; Teaching to the Test; Education Production; Regression Discontinuity
Education level
Document Object Identifier (DOI)

EdWorkingPaper suggested citation:

Gilraine, Michael, and Jeffrey Penney. (). Cramming: Short- and Long-Run Effects. (EdWorkingPaper: 21-444). Retrieved from Annenberg Institute at Brown University:

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