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A multilevel study of position effects in PISA achievement tests: Student- and school-level predictors in the German tracked school system.
G. Nagy, B. Nagengast, A. Frey, M. Becker, N. Rose

A multilevel study of position effects in PISA achievement tests: Student- and school-level predictors in the German tracked school system.

Assessment in Education: Principles, Policy & Practice.

Position effects (PE) cause decreasing probabilities of correct item responses towards the end of a test. We analysed PEs in science, mathematics and reading tests administered in the German extension to the PISA 2006 study with respect to their variability at the student- and school-level. PEs were strongest in reading and weakest in mathematics. Variability in PEs was found at both levels of analysis. PEs were stronger for male students, for students with a migration background (science and mathematics), and for students with a less favourable socio-economic background (reading). At the school level, PEs were stronger in lower school tracks and in schools with a high proportion of students with a migration background. The relationships of the test scores with the covariates partly reflected the covariates’ relationships with PEs. Our findings suggest that PEs should be taken seriously in large-scale assessments as they have an undesirable impact on the results.