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Taking the Easy Way Out: How the GED Testing Program Induces Students to Drop Out

  • James J. Heckman
  • John Eric Humphries
  • Paul A. LaFontaine
  • Pedro L. Rodriguez

The option to obtain a General Education Development (GED) certificate changes the incentives facing high school students. This paper evaluates the effect of three different GED policy innovations on high school graduation rates. A six point decrease in the GED pass rate due to an increase in national passing standards produced a 1.3 point decline in overall high school dropout rates. The introduction of a GED certification program in high schools in Oregon produced a four percent decrease in high school graduation rates. Introduction of GED certificates for civilians in California increased the high school dropout rate by 3 points. The GED program induces students to drop out of high school.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w14044.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 14044.

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Date of creation: May 2008
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Publication status: published as James J. Heckman & John Eric Humphries & Paul A. LaFontaine & Pedro L. Rodr�guez, 2012. "Taking the Easy Way Out: How the GED Testing Program Induces Students to Drop Out," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 30(3), pages 495 - 520.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:14044
Note: ED
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  1. Lillard, Dean R. & DeCicca, Philip P., 2001. "Higher standards, more dropouts? Evidence within and across time," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 20(5), pages 459-473, October.
  2. James J. Heckman & Paul A. LaFontaine, 2006. "Bias-Corrected Estimates of GED Returns," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 24(3), pages 661-700, July.
  3. Heckman, James J. & LaFontaine, Paul A., 2007. "The American High School Graduation Rate: Trends and Levels," IZA Discussion Papers 3216, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  4. Robert Kominski, 1990. "Estimating the National High School Dropout Rate," Demography, Springer, vol. 27(2), pages 303-311, May.
  5. Donald Kenkel & Dean Lillard & Alan Mathios, 2006. "The Roles of High School Completion and GED Receipt in Smoking and Obesity," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 24(3), pages 635-660, July.
  6. repec:mpr:mprres:1894 is not listed on IDEAS
  7. Cameron, Stephen V & Heckman, James J, 1993. "The Nonequivalence of High School Equivalents," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 11(1), pages 1-47, January.
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