On the Threshold: Impacts of Barely Passing High-School Exit Exams on Post-Secondary Enrollment and Completion

Authors
John P. Papay,
Ann Mantil,
Richard J. Murnane
Year of publication
2022
Publication
Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis
Many states use high-school exit examinations to assess students’ career and college readiness in core subjects. We find meaningful consequences of barely passing the mathematics examination in Massachusetts, as opposed to just failing it. However, these impacts operate at different educational attainment margins for low-income and higher-income students. As in previous work, we find that barely passing increases the probability of graduating from high school for low-income (particularly urban low-income) students, but not for higher-income students. However, this pattern is reversed for 4-year college graduation. For higher-income students only, just passing the examination increases the probability of completing a 4-year college degree by 2.1 percentage points, a sizable effect given that only 13% of these students near the cutoff graduate.

Suggested Citation:

Papay, J.P., Mantil, A., & Murnane, R.J. (2022). On the Threshold: Impacts of Barely Passing High-School Exit Exams on Post-Secondary Enrollment and Completion. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis