Search EdWorkingPapers

Mridul Joshi

Joshua B. Gilbert, Luke W. Miratrix, Mridul Joshi, Benjamin W. Domingue.
Analyzing heterogeneous treatment effects (HTE) plays a crucial role in understanding the impacts of educational interventions. A standard practice for HTE analysis is to examine interactions between treatment status and pre-intervention participant characteristics, such as pretest scores, to identify how different groups respond to treatment. This study demonstrates that identical patterns of HTE on test score outcomes can emerge either from variation in treatment effects due to a pre-intervention participant characteristic or from correlations between treatment effects and item easiness parameters. We demonstrate analytically and through simulation that these two scenarios cannot be distinguished if analysis is based on summary scores alone. We then describe a novel approach that identifies the relevant data-generating process by leveraging item-level data. We apply our approach to a randomized trial of a reading intervention in second grade, and show that any apparent HTE by pretest ability is driven by the correlation between treatment effect size and item easiness. Our results highlight the potential of employing measurement principles in causal analysis, beyond their common use in test construction.

More →