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Test scores, educational opportunities, and individual choice


  • Venti, Steven F.
  • Wise, David A.


A model combining student preferences for college with university admissions decisions is estimated to provide information on the role of test scores in the determination of post-secondary educational opportunities. In contrast to implications of much of the recent criticism of tests and their use, we find that scholastic aptitude test scores are more strongly related to student application and choice of college "quality" than to college admissions decisions. In addition, although there is a substantial correlation between test scores and high school performance, we find that both post-secondary school preferences and ultimate opportunities are related as much to performance in high school as to test scores themselves. Although SAT scores certainly exclude some persons from schools, our findings indicate that they do not represent a dominating constraint on the college opportunities of high school graduates.
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Suggested Citation

  • Venti, Steven F. & Wise, David A., 1982. "Test scores, educational opportunities, and individual choice," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(1), pages 35-63, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:pubeco:v:18:y:1982:i:1:p:35-63

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Willis, Robert J & Rosen, Sherwin, 1979. "Education and Self-Selection," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(5), pages 7-36, October.
    2. Duncan, Gregory M, 1980. "Formulation and Statistical Analysis of the Mixed, Continuous/Discrete Dependent Variable Model in Classical Production Theory," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 48(4), pages 839-852, May.
    3. Ernst R. Berndt & Bronwyn H. Hall & Robert E. Hall & Jerry A. Hausman, 1974. "Estimation and Inference in Nonlinear Structural Models," NBER Chapters,in: Annals of Economic and Social Measurement, Volume 3, number 4, pages 653-665 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Lewis C. Solomon, 1975. "The Definition of College Quality and Its Impact on Earnings," NBER Chapters,in: Explorations in Economic Research, Volume 2, number 4, pages 537-587 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Jeffrey R. Kling & Jens Ludwig & Lawrence F. Katz, 2004. "Youth Criminal Behavior in the Moving to Opportunity Experiment," Working Papers 6, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
    6. repec:pri:indrel:dsp01sj1391935 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Steven F. Venti & David A. Wise, 1981. "Test Scores and Self-Selection of Higher Education: College Attendance versus College Completion," NBER Working Papers 0709, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    Cited by:

    1. Curs, Bradley & Singell, Larry Jr., 2002. "An analysis of the application and enrollment processes for in-state and out-of-state students at a large public university," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 21(2), pages 111-124, April.
    2. Holger Sieg & Dennis Epple & Richard Romano, 2003. "Peer effects, financial aid and selection of students into colleges and universities: an empirical analysis," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 18(5), pages 501-525.
    3. Stephen L. DeJardins & Dennis A. Ahlburg & Brian McCall, "undated". "An Integrated Model of Application, Admission, Enrollment, and Financial Aid," Working Papers 0104, Human Resources and Labor Studies, University of Minnesota (Twin Cities Campus).
    4. Toutkoushian, Robert K., 2001. "Do parental income and educational attainment affect the initial choices of New Hampshire's college-bound students?," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 20(3), pages 245-262, June.
    5. MONTMARQUETTE, Claude & MAHSEREDJIAN, Sophie & HOULE, Rachel, 1995. "The Determinants of University Dropouts: a Sequential Decision Model with Selectivity Bias," Cahiers de recherche 9558, Universite de Montreal, Departement de sciences economiques.
    6. Montmarquette, Claude & Mahseredjian, Sophie & Houle, Rachel, 2001. "The determinants of university dropouts: a bivariate probability model with sample selection," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 20(5), pages 475-484, October.
    7. Porter, Stephen R. & Toutkoushian, Robert K., 2006. "Institutional research productivity and the connection to average student quality and overall reputation," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 25(6), pages 605-617, December.

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