Non-response biases in surveys of school children: the case of the English PISA samples

Micklewright, John, Schnepf, Sylke V. and Skinner, Chris J. (2012) Non-response biases in surveys of school children: the case of the English PISA samples. Journal of the Royal Statistical Society Series A (General), 1-41.


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We analyse response patterns to an important survey of school children, exploiting rich auxiliary information on respondents’ and non-respondents’ cognitive ability that is correlated both with response and the learning achievement that the survey aims to measure. The survey is the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), which sets response thresholds in an attempt to control data quality. We analyse the case of England for 2000 when response rates were deemed high enough by the PISA organisers to publish the results, and 2003, when response rates were a little lower and deemed of sufficient concern for the results not to be published. We construct weights that account for the pattern of non-response using two methods, propensity scores and the GREG estimator. There is clear evidence of biases, but there is no indication that the slightly higher response rates in 2000 were associated with higher quality data. This underlines the danger of using response rate thresholds as a guide to data quality

Item Type: Article
ISSNs: 0035-9238 (print)
1467-9868 (electronic)
Keywords: non-response, bias, school survey, data linkage, PISA
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HA Statistics
Divisions : University Structure - Pre August 2011 > Southampton Statistical Sciences Research Institute
Faculty of Social and Human Sciences > Social Sciences > Social Statistics & Demography
ePrint ID: 79403
Accepted Date and Publication Date:
January 2012In press
Date Deposited: 15 Mar 2010
Last Modified: 31 Mar 2016 13:15
Hierarchical Analysis of Unit Nonresponse in Sample Surveys
Funded by: ESRC National Centre for Research Methods (RES-062-23-0458)
Led by: Gabriele B. Durrant
1 September 2007 to 28 February 2011

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