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CLEP Me Out of Here: The Impact of Prior Learning Assessments on College Completion

43 Pages Posted: 17 Mar 2017  

Angela Boatman

Vanderbilt University

Michael Hurwitz

College Board

Jason Lee

University of Georgia

Jonathan Smith

Georgia State University

Date Written: March 1, 2017

Abstract

This paper estimates the impact of the College Level Examination Program (CLEP) examination, a college-level exam that offers credit for students’ mastery of a content area in lieu of completing a course. Using a regression discontinuity design, we find that passing a CLEP exam leads to a 17 percent (5.7 percentage points) increase in associate degree completion for students at two-year colleges and a 2.6 percent (1.2 percentage point) increase in bachelor’s degree completion for students at four-year colleges. CLEP also serves and impacts subpopulations difficult to track in large numbers and who traditionally underperform in higher education. For example, two-year college enrollees who earn a credit-granting CLEP score and are in the military, older than 24, and home schooled are 18.1, 19.5, and 62.8 percent more likely to obtain an associate’s degree, respectively. The impacts from this inexpensive, credit-producing intervention are at least as large in magnitude as most other programs designed to improve degree completion.

Suggested Citation

Boatman, Angela and Hurwitz, Michael and Lee, Jason and Smith, Jonathan, CLEP Me Out of Here: The Impact of Prior Learning Assessments on College Completion (March 1, 2017). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2933695 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2933695

Angela Boatman

Vanderbilt University ( email )

230 Appleton Place
PMB414
Nashville, TN 37203
United States

Michael Hurwitz

College Board ( email )

1919 M Street NW
Suite 300
Washington, DC 20036
United States

Jason Lee

University of Georgia ( email )

MI
United States

Jonathan Smith (Contact Author)

Georgia State University ( email )

GA
United States

HOME PAGE: http://https://sites.google.com/site/jonathansmithphd/

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