The question of compositional effects (that is, the effect of collective properties of a pupil body on the individual members), or Aggregated Group-Level Effects (AGLEs) as the author prefers to call them, has been the subject of considerable controversy. Some authors, e.g. Rutter et al. [Fifteen thousand hours: Secondary Schools and Their Effects on Children. London: Open Books.], Willms [Oxford Review of Education 11(1): 33–41; (1986). American Sociological Review, 51, 224–241.], Bondi [British Educational Research Journal, 17(3), 203-218.], have claimed to find such effects, while on the other hand Mortimore et al. [School Matters: the Junior Years. Wells: Open Books.] and Thomas and Mortimore [Oxford Review of Education 16(2): 137–158.] did not. Others, for example Hauser , have implied that many apparent AGLEs may be spurious, while Gray et al. [Review of Research in Education, 8, 158–193.] have suggested that at least in certain circumstances such apparent effects may arise as a result of inadequate allowance for pre-existing differences. A possible statistical mechanism for this is outlined in the work of Burstein [In R. Dreeben, & J. A. Thomas (Eds.), The Analysis of Educational Productivity. Volume 1: Issues in Microanalysis, Cambridge, MASS: Ballinger, pp. 119–190] on the effect of aggregating the data when a variable is omitted from the model used. This paper suggests another way in which spurious AGLEs can arise. It shows mathematically that even if there are no omitted variables, measurement error in an explanatory variable could give rise to apparent, but spurious, AGLEs, when analysed using a multilevel modelling procedure. Using simulation methods, it investigates what the practical effects of this are likely to be, and shows that statistically significant spurious effects occur systematically under fairly standard conditions.
Quality & Quantity – Springer Journals
Published: Feb 13, 2007
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