I'm a Professor at the School of Business and Economics of the University in Talca. You can find me at the School of Business and Economics, Campus Santiago, University of Talca, Santa Elena 2222, San Joaquín, Santiago, Chile.

Email me at blara at utalca dot cl.

If you want to see more non-academic material, visit my blog: (in Spanish).


Increased Learning or GPA Inflation? Evidence from GPA-Based University Admission in Chile

The use of students' within-school grade point average (GPA) ranking has emerged as a means to increase admission rates of both segregated minorities and high-performance individuals. Based on that idea, Chile's centralized university admission system introduced, in 2012, a "GPA-ranking" score variable. In contrast to other ranking-based criteria, the Chilean version ostensibly avoids classmate competition by basing scores on past cohorts' GPAs. Also, the GPA-ranking is similar to an added bonus to the GPA score, and it does not replace the national admission exam. Such design incentivizes both academic effort and GPA inflation. In this paper, we analyze the effects of the Chilean reform on GPA and achievement. Our results, based on difference-in-differences and simulated instruments methods, suggest that: (i) GPA increased across the entire distribution of students; (ii) GPA increases were larger in schools where the new variable presented greater incentives; and (iii) GPA increases were unrelated to improvements in achievement. We interpret the results as evidence that the Chilean ranking variable caused GPA inflation rather than increased learning.

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