This paper makes use of the regional variation in schooling legislation within the German secondary education system to estimate the causal effect of central exit examinations on student performance. We propose a difference-in-differences framework that exploits the quasi-experimental nature of the German TIMSS middle-school sample. The estimates show that students in federal states with central exit examinations clearly outperform students in other federal states, but that only part of the difference can be attributed to central exit examinations. Our results suggest that central examinations increase student achievement by about one third school year equivalent.
education central examinations difference-in-differences quasi-experiment