OECD Development Centre Working Papers

The OECD Development Centre links OECD members with developing and emerging economies and fosters debate and discussion to seek creative policy solutions to emerging global issues and development challenges. This series of working papers is intended to disseminate the OECD Development Centre’s research findings rapidly among specialists in the field concerned. These papers are generally available in the original English or French, with a summary in the other language.

English, French

Understanding student performance beyond traditional factors

Evidence from PISA

This paper studies the linkages between schools’ inputs and students’ performance in Latin America. We exploit the richness of PISA 2012 questionnaires at the student and school level to study the association between a different set of inputs and students’ performance in mathematics. First, this research shows that students’ characteristics and their environment (i.e. sex, age and economic, social and cultural status of students and schools) explain close to 30% of the variation in education performance in Latin America, a higher percentage than in OECD and other economies which participated in PISA 2012. Second, after controlling for students’ characteristics and their environment, our results show that in Latin America, some non-traditional school inputs, such as the feedback provided by the principal to the teacher, weekly instructional time or the attitude and motivation of teachers, are associated with student performance, whereas more traditional inputs (e.g. school infrastructure, share of certified teachers and teacher qualifications) are not always related to better learning outcomes. These findings suggest that some pedagogical initiatives, which are also more cost-effective, could improve students’ performance in the region.


Keywords: secondary education, PISA, Latin America, educational performance
JEL: I21: Health, Education, and Welfare / Education and Research Institutions / Analysis of Education; H41: Public Economics / Publicly Provided Goods / Public Goods; I25: Health, Education, and Welfare / Education and Research Institutions / Education and Economic Development; H52: Public Economics / National Government Expenditures and Related Policies / Government Expenditures and Education
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