High-School Exit Examinations and the Schooling Decisions of Teenagers: a Multi-Dimensional Regression-Discontinuity Analysis

38 Pages Posted: 12 Jun 2011 Last revised: 14 Jun 2011

See all articles by John P. Papay

John P. Papay

Brown University

John B. Willett

Harvard University - Harvard Graduate School of Education

Richard J. Murnane

Harvard University - Harvard Graduate School of Education; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Date Written: June 2011

Abstract

We ask whether failing one or more of the state-mandated high-school exit examinations affects whether students graduate from high school. Using a new multi-dimensional regression-discontinuity approach, we examine simultaneously scores on mathematics and English language arts tests. Barely passing both examinations, as opposed to failing them, increases the probability that students graduate by 7.6 percentage points. The effects are greater for students scoring near each cutoff than for students further away from them. We explain how the multi-dimensional regression-discontinuity approach provides insights over conventional methods for making causal inferences when multiple variables assign individuals to a range of treatments.

Suggested Citation

Papay, John P. and Willett, John B. and Murnane, Richard J., High-School Exit Examinations and the Schooling Decisions of Teenagers: a Multi-Dimensional Regression-Discontinuity Analysis (June 2011). NBER Working Paper No. w17112. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1861853

John P. Papay (Contact Author)

Brown University ( email )

Box 1860
Providence, RI 02912
United States

John B. Willett

Harvard University - Harvard Graduate School of Education ( email )

6 Appian Way
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
617-495-3401 (Phone)

Richard J. Murnane

Harvard University - Harvard Graduate School of Education ( email )

6 Appian Way
Gutman Library 409
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
617-496-4820 (Phone)
617-496-3095 (Fax)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
617-496-4820 (Phone)
617-496-3095 (Fax)

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