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ACT for All: The Effect of Mandatory College Entrance Exams on Postsecondary Attainment and Choice

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  • Joshua Hyman

    () (Department of Public Policy University of Connecticut West Hartford, CT 06117)

Abstract

This paper examines the effects of requiring and paying for all public high school students to take a college entrance exam, a policy adopted by eleven states since 2001. I show that prior to the policy, for every ten poor students who score college-ready on the ACT or SAT, there are an additional five poor students who would score college-ready but who take neither exam. I use a difference-in-differences strategy to estimate the effects of the policy on postsecondary attainment and find small increases in enrollment at four-year institutions. The effects are concentrated among students less likely to take a college entrance exam in the absence of the policy and students in the poorest high schools. The students induced by the policy to enroll persist through college at approximately the same rate as their inframarginal peers. I calculate that the policy is more cost-effective than traditional student aid at boosting postsecondary attainment.

Suggested Citation

  • Joshua Hyman, 2017. "ACT for All: The Effect of Mandatory College Entrance Exams on Postsecondary Attainment and Choice," Education Finance and Policy, MIT Press, vol. 12(3), pages 281-311, Summer.
  • Handle: RePEc:tpr:edfpol:v:12:y:2017:i:3:p:281-311
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    File URL: http://www.mitpressjournals.org/doi/pdf/10.1162/EDFP_a_00206
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    Cited by:

    1. Brian Holzman & Daniel Klasik & Rachel Baker, 2020. "Gaps in the College Application Gauntlet," Research in Higher Education, Springer;Association for Institutional Research, vol. 61(7), pages 795-822, November.
    2. Joshua Goodman & Oded Gurantz & Jonathan Smith, 2020. "Take Two! SAT Retaking and College Enrollment Gaps," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 12(2), pages 115-158, May.
    3. Page, Lindsay C. & Scott-Clayton, Judith, 2016. "Improving college access in the United States: Barriers and policy responses," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 51(C), pages 4-22.
    4. Joshua Hyman, 2018. "Nudges, College Enrollment, and College Persistence: Evidence From a Statewide Experiment in Michigan," Working papers 2018-10, University of Connecticut, Department of Economics.
    5. Susan M. Dynarski & Steven W. Hemelt & Joshua M. Hyman, 2013. "The Missing Manual: Using National Student Clearinghouse Data to Track Postsecondary Outcomes," NBER Working Papers 19552, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Lindsay C. Page & Judith Scott-Clayton, 2015. "Improving College Access in the United States: Barriers and Policy Responses," NBER Working Papers 21781, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Joshua Hyman, 2017. "Does Money Matter in the Long Run? Effects of School Spending on Educational Attainment," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 9(4), pages 256-280, November.
    8. Susan Dynarski & C.J. Libassi & Katherine Michelmore & Stephanie Owen, 2018. "Closing the Gap: The Effect of a Targeted, Tuition-Free Promise on College Choices of High-Achieving, Low-Income Students," NBER Working Papers 25349, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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