(7) Assessment of School Merit with Multiple Regression: Methods and Critique

Richard L. Tate
Florida State University

Abstract: Regression-based adjustment of student outcomes for the assessment of the merit of schools is considered. First, the basics of causal modeling and multiple regression are briefly reviewed. Then, two common regression-based adjustment procedures are described, pointing out that the validity of the final assessments depends on (a) the degree to which the assumed adjustment model accurately reflects the actual causal processes of schooling in the district and (b) the validity and reliability of the measurement of all necessary variables. In the final section, it is argued that assessment of school merit should not be based solely on regression-based adjustment of student outcomes because state-of-the-art knowledge of causal processes and measurement skills are not adequate to ensure reasonable accuracy. A simple example is used to illustrate the possible severity of bias introduced by a single “specification error” in the model. It is suggested, however, that regression-based procedures might play other, less central, roles in the assessment of school merit.

Citation: Tate, R. L. (1986). Assessment of school merit with multiple regression: methods and critique. Florida Journal of Educational Research, 28(1), 5-23.

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