Skipping Questions on School Exams: The Role of Socio-Emotional Skills on Educational Outcomes

Monica Hernandez, University of Michigan
Jonathan Hershaff, University of Michigan

During the last years, researchers have gotten increasingly interested in the importance of socio-emotional skills for students’ performance. These skills have been shown to be related with taking harder classes, graduating from high school and getting higher grades. The study of the nature of accumulation of these skills has been restricted by the availability of objective and non-expensive measures of socio-emotional skills. This paper proposes an objective and costless proxy of socio-emotional skills directly derived from test taking behavior. The measure is the incidence of skipping questions on a standardized test in Michigan. This is a low-stakes exam, with no penalties for guessing and unbinding time constraints. We find that, conditional on test scores, the incidence of skipping questions in middle school consistently predicts education outcomes in high school and college, such as grade repetition, high school drop-out, on-time graduation and going to a 4-year college.

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Presented in Poster Session 5: Economy, Labor Force, Education and Inequality