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Do High School Exit Exams Influence Educational Attainment or Labor Market Performance?

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  • Thomas S. Dee
  • Brian A. Jacob

Abstract

State requirements that high school graduates pass exit exams were the leading edge of the movement towards standards-based reform and continue to be adopted and refined by states today. In this study, we present new empirical evidence on how exit exams influenced educational attainment and labor market experiences using data from the 2000 Census and the National Center for Education Statistics' Common Core of Data (CCD). Our results suggest that the effects of these reforms have been heterogeneous. For example, our analysis of the Census data suggests that exit exams significantly reduced the probability of completing high school, particularly for black students. Similarly, our analysis of grade-level dropout data from the CCD indicates that Minnesota's recent exit exam increased the dropout rate in urban and high-poverty school districts as well as in those with a relatively large concentration of minority students. This increased risk of dropping out was concentrated among 12th grade students. However, we also found that Minnesota's exit exam lowered the dropout rate in low-poverty and suburban school districts, particularly among students in the 10th and 11th grades. These results suggest that exit exams have the capacity to improve student and school performance but also appear to have exacerbated the inequality in educational attainment.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 12199.

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Date of creation: May 2006
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Publication status: published as Gamoran, Adam (ed.) Standards-Based Reform and Children in Poverty: Lessons for "No Child Left Behind." Brookings Institution Press, 2007.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:12199

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  1. Randall Reback & Julie Berry Cullen, 2006. "Tinkering toward accolades: School gaming under a performance accountability system," Working Papers 0601, Barnard College, Department of Economics.
  2. Murnane, Richard J. & Levy, Frank, 2001. "Will Standards-Based Reforms Improve the Education of Students of Color?," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 54(n. 2), pages 401-16, June.
  3. Bishop, John H. & Mane, Ferran, 2001. "The impacts of minimum competency exam graduation requirements on high school graduation, college attendance and early labor market success," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 8(2), pages 203-222, May.
  4. Lillard, Dean R. & DeCicca, Philip P., 2001. "Higher standards, more dropouts? Evidence within and across time," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 20(5), pages 459-473, October.
  5. Gruber, Jonathan, 1994. "The Incidence of Mandated Maternity Benefits," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(3), pages 622-41, June.
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Cited by:
  1. Bridget Terry Long, 2010. "Dropout Prevention and College Prep," NBER Chapters, in: Targeting Investments in Children: Fighting Poverty When Resources are Limited, pages 249-282 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Christopher L. Smith, 2011. "Polarization, immigration, education: What's behind the dramatic decline in youth employment?," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2011-41, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  3. De Paola, Maria & Scoppa, Vincenzo, 2008. "A signalling model of school grades: centralized versus decentralized examinations," MPRA Paper 7866, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  4. Brunello, Giorgio & Checchi, Daniele, 2006. "Does School Tracking Affect Equality of Opportunity? New International Evidence," IZA Discussion Papers 2348, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  5. Eduardo Andrade & Luciano De Castro, 2010. "Tougher Educational Exam Leading to Worse Selection," Discussion Papers 1533, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  6. Whitaker, Stephan, 2011. "The impact of legalized abortion on high school graduation through selection and composition," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 30(2), pages 228-246, April.
  7. John P. Papay & Richard J. Murnane & John B. Willett, 2008. "The Consequences of High School Exit Examinations for Struggling Low-Income Urban Students: Evidence from Massachusetts," NBER Working Papers 14186, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Goodman, Joshua, 2012. "The Labor of Division: Returns to Compulsory Math Coursework," Working Paper Series rwp12-032, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
  9. Hall, Caroline, 2013. "Does more general education reduce the risk of future unemployment? Evidence from labor market experiences during the Great Recession," Working Paper Series 2013:17, IFAU - Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy.
  10. Marcotte, Dave E., 2011. "Exit Exams and High School Dropout," IZA Discussion Papers 5527, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  11. Kim, Jeounghee & Joo, Myungkook, 2011. "Did PRWORA's mandatory school attendance policy increase attendance among targeted teenage girls?," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 33(9), pages 1616-1623, September.
  12. de Carvalho Andrade, Eduardo & de Castro, Luciano I., 2011. "Tougher educational exam leading to worse selection," Economics - The Open-Access, Open-Assessment E-Journal, Kiel Institute for the World Economy, vol. 5(17), pages 1-24.
  13. Caroline Hall, 2012. "The Effects of Reducing Tracking in Upper Secondary School: Evidence from a Large-Scale Pilot Scheme," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 47(1), pages 237-269.
  14. Eduardo de Carvalho Andrade & Luciano I. de Castro, 2008. "Tougher Educational Exam Leading to Worse Selection," Discussion Papers 1469, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  15. Dhaval M. Dave & Nancy E. Reichman & Hope Corman, 2008. "Effects of Welfare Reform on Educational Acquisition of Young Adult Women," NBER Working Papers 14466, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. Yi-Chun Chen & Siyang Xiong, 2008. "Topologies on Types: Connections," Discussion Papers 1470, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  17. Maria De Paola & Vincenzo Scoppa, 2010. "A signalling model of school grades under different evaluation systems," Journal of Economics, Springer, vol. 101(3), pages 199-212, November.

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