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Giving College Credit Where It Is Due: Advanced Placement Exam Scores and College Outcomes

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  • Jonathan Smith
  • Michael Hurwitz
  • Christopher Avery

Abstract

We implement a regression discontinuity design using the continuous raw Advanced Placement (AP) exam scores, which are mapped into the observed 1–5 integer scores, for over 4.5 million students. Earning higher AP integer scores positively affects college completion and subsequent exam-taking. Specifically, attaining credit-granting integer scores increases the probability that a student will receive a bachelor’s degree within 4 years by 1–2 percentage points per exam. We also find that receiving a score of 3 over a 2 on junior year AP exams causes students to take between 0.06 and 0.14 more AP exams senior year.

Suggested Citation

  • Jonathan Smith & Michael Hurwitz & Christopher Avery, 2017. "Giving College Credit Where It Is Due: Advanced Placement Exam Scores and College Outcomes," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 35(1), pages 67-147.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucp:jlabec:doi:10.1086/687568
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. repec:ags:stataj:267111 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Calonico, Sebastian & Cattaneo, Matias D. & Titiunik, Rocío, 2014. "Robust data-driven inference in the regression-discontinuity design," Stata Journal, StataCorp LP, vol. 14(4).
    3. 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.
    4. McCrary, Justin, 2008. "Manipulation of the running variable in the regression discontinuity design: A density test," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 142(2), pages 698-714, February.
    5. Papay, John P. & Willett, John B. & Murnane, Richard J., 2011. "Extending the regression-discontinuity approach to multiple assignment variables," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 161(2), pages 203-207, April.
    6. 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.
    7. Guido Imbens & Karthik Kalyanaraman, 2012. "Optimal Bandwidth Choice for the Regression Discontinuity Estimator," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 79(3), pages 933-959.
    8. Caroline Hoxby & Christopher Avery, 2013. "The Missing "One-Offs": The Hidden Supply of High-Achieving, Low-Income Students," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 44(1 (Spring), pages 1-65.
    9. Amanda Pallais, 2015. "Small Differences That Matter: Mistakes in Applying to College," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 33(2), pages 493-520.
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    Cited by:

    1. 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.
    2. 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.
    3. Avery, Christopher & Gurantz, Oded & Hurwitz, Michael & Smith, Jonathan, 2016. "Shifting College Majors in Response to Advanced Placement Exam Scores," Working Paper Series rwp16-058, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
    4. repec:eee:ecoedu:v:58:y:2017:i:c:p:141-161 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Dougherty, Shaun M. & Goodman, Joshua S. & Hill, Darryl V. & Litke, Erica G. & Page, Lindsay C., 2017. "Objective course placement and college readiness: Evidence from targeted middle school math acceleration," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 58(C), pages 141-161.
    6. Ulrik Hvidman & Hans Henrik Sievertsen, 2018. "High-Stakes Grades and Student Behavior," Bristol Economics Discussion Papers 18/698, Department of Economics, University of Bristol, UK.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I2 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education
    • I23 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Higher Education; Research Institutions
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity

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