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Ability Sorting and the Importance of College Quality to Student Achievement: Evidence from Community Colleges

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  • Kevin Stange

    () (University of Michigan)

Abstract

This article examines the effect of institutional quality on the educational attainment of community college students, a large group that has been mostly overlooked in previous work. The effect of institutional quality is generally difficult to separate from that of student ability because more capable students usually sort into better colleges. A detailed analysis of student sorting reveals this not to be the case among community college students, for whom college quality is effectively determined by factors other than their aptitude. This facilitates identification of school quality effects. I find that community college quality (as measured by instructional expenditure per student and several other measures) has no impact on community college students' educational attainment. States and colleges should seek to identify other factors that may be more influential. © 2012 Association for Education Finance and Policy

Suggested Citation

  • Kevin Stange, 2012. "Ability Sorting and the Importance of College Quality to Student Achievement: Evidence from Community Colleges," Education Finance and Policy, MIT Press, vol. 7(1), pages 74-105, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:tpr:edfpol:v:7:y:2012:i:1:p:74-105
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. John Bound & Michael F. Lovenheim & Sarah Turner, 2010. "Why Have College Completion Rates Declined? An Analysis of Changing Student Preparation and Collegiate Resources," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 2(3), pages 129-157, July.
    2. Eleanor Wiske Dillon & Jeffrey Andrew Smith, 2013. "The Determinants of Mismatch Between Students and Colleges," NBER Working Papers 19286, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Sarah R. Cohodes & Joshua S. Goodman, 2014. "Merit Aid, College Quality, and College Completion: Massachusetts' Adams Scholarship as an In-Kind Subsidy," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 6(4), pages 251-285, October.
    4. Cohodes, Sarah & Goodman, Joshua, 2012. "First Degree Earns: The Impact of College Quality on College Completion Rates," Working Paper Series rwp12-033, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
    5. Eleanor Wiske Dillon & Jeffrey Andrew Smith, 2017. "Determinants of the Match between Student Ability and College Quality," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 35(1), pages 45-66.
    6. Robin R. LaSota & William Zumeta, 2016. "What Matters in Increasing Community College Students’ Upward Transfer to the Baccalaureate Degree: Findings from the Beginning Postsecondary Study 2003–2009," Research in Higher Education, Springer;Association for Institutional Research, vol. 57(2), pages 152-189, March.
    7. Hinrichs, Peter, 2014. "Affirmative action bans and college graduation rates," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 42(C), pages 43-52.
    8. Jonathan Smith & Kevin Stange, 2016. "A New Measure of College Quality to Study the Effects of College Sector and Peers on Degree Attainment," Education Finance and Policy, MIT Press, vol. 11(4), pages 369-403, Fall.
    9. John Bound & Michael F. Lovenheim & Sarah Turner, 2012. "Increasing Time to Baccalaureate Degree in the United States," Education Finance and Policy, MIT Press, vol. 7(4), pages 375-424, September.
    10. Evan Riehl & Juan E. Saavedra & Miguel Urquiola, 2018. "Learning and Earning: An Approximation to College Value Added in Two Dimensions," NBER Chapters,in: Productivity in Higher Education National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    institutional quality; community colleges; educational attainment;

    JEL classification:

    • I20 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - General

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