CLEP Me Out of Here: The Impact of Prior Learning Assessments on College Completion
51 Pages Posted: 17 Mar 2017 Last revised: 8 Nov 2017
Date Written: November 1, 2017
This paper estimates the impact of the College Level Examination Program (CLEP) examination, a college-level exam that offers credit for student 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 historically hard to track in educational data. For example, two-year college enrollees who earn a credit-granting CLEP score and are in the military, older than 24, and were home schooled are 18.1, 19.5, and 62.8 percent more likely to obtain an associate 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.
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