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The Effects of an Incentive-Based High-School Intervention on College Outcomes


  • C. Kirabo Jackson


I analyze the effects of a program that pays both 11th and 12th grade students and teachers for passing scores on Advanced Placement exams on college outcomes. Using a difference-in-differences strategy, I find that affected students of all ethnicities attend college in greater numbers, have improved college GPAs, and are more likely to remain in college beyond their freshman year. Moreover, the program improves college outcomes even for those students who would have enrolled in college without the program. I also find evidence of increased college graduation for black and Hispanic students ─ suggesting that late high-school interventions may confer lasting positive effects on students, and may be effective at improving the educational outcomes of minority students. The finding of enduring benefits when extrinsic motivators are no longer provided is important in light of concerns that incentive-based-interventions may lead to undesirable practices such as "teaching-to-the-test" and cheating.

Suggested Citation

  • C. Kirabo Jackson, 2010. "The Effects of an Incentive-Based High-School Intervention on College Outcomes," NBER Working Papers 15722, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:15722
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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. James Heckman & Flavio Cunha, 2007. "The Technology of Skill Formation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(2), pages 31-47, May.
    2. Philip Oreopoulos & Daniel Lang & Joshua Angrist, 2009. "Incentives and Services for College Achievement: Evidence from a Randomized Trial," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 1(1), pages 136-163, January.
    3. Philippe Belley & Lance Lochner, 2007. "The Changing Role of Family Income and Ability in Determining Educational Achievement," Journal of Human Capital, University of Chicago Press, vol. 1(1), pages 37-89.
    4. Joshua Angrist & Eric Bettinger & Michael Kremer, 2006. "Long-Term Educational Consequences of Secondary School Vouchers: Evidence from Administrative Records in Colombia," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(3), pages 847-862, June.
    5. Cunha, Flavio & Heckman, James J. & Lochner, Lance, 2006. "Interpreting the Evidence on Life Cycle Skill Formation," Handbook of the Economics of Education, Elsevier.
    6. Janet Currie, 2001. "Early Childhood Education Programs," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 15(2), pages 213-238, Spring.
    7. Eric P. Bettinger & Bridget Terry Long & Philip Oreopoulos & Lisa Sanbonmatsu, 2009. "The Role of Simplification and Information in College Decisions: Results from the H&R Block FAFSA Experiment," NBER Working Papers 15361, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Susan Dynarski, 2008. "Building the Stock of College-Educated Labor," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 43(3), pages 576-610.
    9. Joshua D. Angrist, 1995. "Conditioning on the Probability of Selection to Control Selection Bias," NBER Technical Working Papers 0181, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. James Berry, 2015. "Child Control in Education Decisions: An Evaluation of Targeted Incentives to Learn in India," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 50(4), pages 1051-1080.
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    Cited by:

    1. C. Kirabo Jackson, 2014. "Do College-Preparatory Programs Improve Long-Term Outcomes?," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 52(1), pages 72-99, January.
    2. Cecilia Speroni, 2011. "High School Dual Enrollment Programs Are We Fast-Tracking Students Too Fast," Mathematica Policy Research Reports ae47a4f61e47474d97003704c, Mathematica Policy Research.
    3. repec:mpr:mprres:7288 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Lichtman-Sadot, Shirlee, 2016. "Improving academic performance through conditional benefits: Open/closed campus policies in high school and student outcomes," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 54(C), pages 95-112.
    5. Cecilia Speroni, 2011. "Determinants of Students Success: The Role of Advanced Placement and Dual Enrollment Programs," Mathematica Policy Research Reports e3994f748a66428b802df56d0, Mathematica Policy Research.
    6. repec:mpr:mprres:7289 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I0 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - General
    • I20 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - General
    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education
    • J0 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - General
    • J1 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics

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