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Outcomes and Causal Inference in International Comparative Assessments


The ETN OCCAM will investigate how educational policies influence educational outcomes worldwide. One of the most
salient findings in the field of education is that there are huge national differences in student achievement in international
comparative studies. The shockingly large gap between the highest performing countries (most of which are in East Asia)
and many European countries corresponds to a difference in attainment of two years of schooling. Although this finding has
been replicated in several studies, at present, the reasons for and consequences of such differences are not well
Variations in many features of educational policies can only be observed across countries on the system level (e.g. the
existence of central exams). Since the start of the new millennium, a new generation of international comparative studies
has been launched: studies like PISA and TIMSS are repeated every few years and thus have a longitudinal component at
the system level. Unlike cross-sectional designs, these trend designs allow the causal effects of changes in educational
policies at the system level to be estimated. Applying this approach, alongside other approaches to causal inference, to the
accumulated data from the comparative studies has a huge potential to provide insights into the determinants of educational
outcomes worldwide.
The ETN will provide an ideal environment for training ESRs to become leading experts in educational policy evaluation,
international student assessments, and educational and policy consulting. They will receive interdisciplinary and -
intersectoral training, and their individual research projects promise groundbreaking new knowledge on how to design fair
and efficient educational systems. For this purpose, OCCAM will integrate the complementary expertise from nine academic
and three non-academic partners. The combination of non-profit and for-profit organizations will ensure the employability and
entrepreneurship of the ESRs.


Net EU contribution
€ 498 432,96
44227 Dortmund

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Nordrhein-Westfalen Arnsberg Dortmund, Kreisfreie Stadt
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Total cost
€ 498 432,96

Participants (8)