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To leave or not to leave? A regression discontinuity analysis of the impact of failing the high school exit exam

  • Ou, Dongshu

The high school exit exam (HSEE) is rapidly becoming a standardized assessment procedure for educational accountability in the United States. I use a unique, state-specific dataset to identify the effects of failing the HSEE on the likelihood of dropping out of high school based on a regression discontinuity design. The analysis shows that students who barely failed the exam were more likely to exit than those who barely passed, despite being offered retest opportunities. The discontinuity amounts to a large proportion of the dropout probability of barely failers, particularly for limited-English-proficiency, racial-minority, and low-income students, suggesting that the potential benefit of raising educational standards might come at the cost of increasing inequality in the educational system.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Economics of Education Review.

Volume (Year): 29 (2010)
Issue (Month): 2 (April)
Pages: 171-186

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Handle: RePEc:eee:ecoedu:v:29:y:2010:i:2:p:171-186
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  1. Dongshu Ou, 2009. "To Leave or Not to Leave? A Regression Discontinuity Analysis of the Impact of Failing High School Exit Exam," CEE Discussion Papers 0107, Centre for the Economics of Education, LSE.
  2. Wilbert van der Klaauw, 2002. "Estimating the Effect of Financial Aid Offers on College Enrollment: A Regression-Discontinuity Approach," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 43(4), pages 1249-1287, November.
  3. Wilbert van der Klaauw, 2008. "Regression-Discontinuity Analysis: A Survey of Recent Developments in Economics," LABOUR, CEIS, vol. 22(2), pages 219-245, 06.
  4. Brian A. Jacob & Lars Lefgren, 2004. "Remedial Education and Student Achievement: A Regression-Discontinuity Analysis," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 86(1), pages 226-244, February.
  5. 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.
  6. Kenneth Y. Chay & Patrick J. McEwan & Miguel Urquiola, 2005. "The Central Role of Noise in Evaluating Interventions That Use Test Scores to Rank Schools," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(4), pages 1237-1258, September.
  7. Thomas Lemieux & Kevin Milligan, 2004. "Incentive Effects of Social Assistance: A Regression Discontinuity Approach," NBER Working Papers 10541, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Randall Reback & Julie Berry Cullen, 2006. "Tinkering toward accolades: School gaming under a performance accountability system," Working Papers 0601, Barnard College, Department of Economics.
  9. Joshua D. Angrist & Victor Lavy, 1999. "Using Maimonides' Rule to Estimate the Effect of Class Size on Scholastic Achievement," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 114(2), pages 533-575.
  10. Imbens, Guido W. & Lemieux, Thomas, 2008. "Regression discontinuity designs: A guide to practice," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 142(2), pages 615-635, February.
  11. Thomas J. Kane, 2003. "A Quasi-Experimental Estimate of the Impact of Financial Aid on College-Going," NBER Working Papers 9703, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Lee, David S. & Card, David, 2008. "Regression discontinuity inference with specification error," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 142(2), pages 655-674, February.
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