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

  • James J. Heckman

    (Department of Economics, University of Chicago)

  • Paul A. LaFontaine

    (American Bar Foundation)

  • Pedro L. Rodriguez

    (Center for Social Program Evaluation, Irving B. Harris School of Public Policy)

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.

(This abstract was borrowed from another version of this item.)

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Paper provided by Geary Institute, University College Dublin in its series Working Papers with number 200829.

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Length: 46 pages
Date of creation: 15 Dec 2008
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ucd:wpaper:200829
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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. Robert Kominski, 1990. "Estimating the National High School Dropout Rate," Demography, Springer, vol. 27(2), pages 303-311, May.
  3. 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.
  4. repec:mpr:mprres:1894 is not listed on IDEAS
  5. James J. Heckman & Paul A. LaFontaine, 2010. "The American High School Graduation Rate: Trends and Levels," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 92(2), pages 244-262, May.
  6. Donald S. Kenkel & Dean R. Lillard & Alan D. Mathios, 2006. "The Roles of High School Completion and GED Receipt in Smoking and Obesity," NBER Working Papers 11990, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  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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