Thursday, August 10, 2017

The Effect of Mandatory College Entrance Exams on Postsecondary Attainment and Choice

This paper examines the effects of requiring and paying for all public high school students to take a college entrance exam, a policy adopted by eleven states since 2001.

Prior to the policy, for every ten poor students who score college-ready on the ACT or SAT, there are an additional five poor students who would score college-ready but who take neither exam. IThe study estimates the effects of the policy on postsecondary attainment and find small increases in enrollment at four-year institutions.

The effects are concentrated among students less likely to take a college entrance exam in the absence of the policy and students in the poorest high schools. The students induced by the policy to enroll persist through college at approximately the same rate as their inframarginal peers. This policy is more cost-effective than traditional student aid at boosting postsecondary attainment.

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