The Impact of Missing and Error-Prone Auxiliary Information on Sparse-Matrix Sub-Population Parameter Estimates

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Given a consistent interest in comparing achievement across sub-populations in international assessments such as TIMSS, PIRLS, and PISA, it is critical that sub-population achievement is estimated reliably and with sufficient precision. As such, we systematically examine the limitations to current estimation methods used by these programs. Using a simulation study along with empirical results from the 2007 cycle of TIMSS, we show that a combination of missing and misclassified data in the conditioning model induces biases in sub-population achievement estimates, the magnitude and degree to which can be readily explained by data quality. Importantly, estimated biases in sub-population achievement are limited to the conditioning variable with poor-quality data while other sub-population achievement estimates are unaffected. Findings are generally in line with theory on missing and error-prone covariates. The current research adds to a small body of literature that has noted some of the limitations to sub-population estimation.

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