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Can You Leave High School Behind?

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  • Sandra E. Black
  • Jane Arnold Lincove
  • Jenna Cullinane
  • Rachel Veron

Abstract

In recent years, many states, including California, Texas, and Oregon, have changed admissions policies to increase access to public universities for students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds. A key concern, however, is how these students will perform. This paper examines the relationship between high school quality and student success at college. Using newly available administrative data from the University of Texas at Austin, we take advantage of the unique policy environment provided by Texas’s Top Ten Percent automatic admissions law, which has not only increased the diversity of high schools in the state that send students to the university, but also provides an admission criteria based on a sole observable characteristic: high school class rank. We find that high school characteristics do affect student performance, and these effects seem more pronounced for women and low-income students. In addition, there is little evidence that the effects of high school characteristics decay over time.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 19842.

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Date of creation: Jan 2014
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:19842

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  1. Eric P. Bettinger & Brent J. Evans & Devin G. Pope, 2013. "Improving College Performance and Retention the Easy Way: Unpacking the ACT Exam," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 5(2), pages 26-52, May.
  2. Cohn, Elchanan & Cohn, Sharon & Balch, Donald C. & Bradley, James Jr., 2004. "Determinants of undergraduate GPAs: SAT scores, high-school GPA and high-school rank," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 23(6), pages 577-586, December.
  3. Berkowitz, Daniel & Hoekstra, Mark, 2011. "Does high school quality matter? Evidence from admissions data," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 30(2), pages 280-288, April.
  4. Julian R. Betts & Darlene Morell, 1999. "The Determinants of Undergraduate Grade Point Average: The Relative Importance of Family Background, High School Resources, and Peer Group Effects," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 34(2), pages 268-293.
  5. Niu, Sunny Xinchun & Tienda, Marta & Cortes, Kalena, 2006. "College selectivity and the Texas top 10% law," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 25(3), pages 259-272, June.
  6. Philippe Cyrenne & Alan Chan, 2010. "High School Grades and University Performance: A Case Study," Departmental Working Papers 2010-02, The University of Winnipeg, Department of Economics.
  7. Douglas S. Massey, 2006. "Social Background and Academic Performance Differentials: White and Minority Students at Selective Colleges," American Law and Economics Review, Oxford University Press, vol. 8(2), pages 390-409.
  8. David J. Deming & Justine S. Hastings & Thomas J. Kane & Douglas O. Staiger, 2014. "School Choice, School Quality, and Postsecondary Attainment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 104(3), pages 991-1013, March.
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