State High School Exit Examinations and Retention in Grades 9 and 10

John R. Warren, University of Minnesota
Amelia Corl, University of Minnesota

In a recent paper the senior author demonstrated that state high school exit examinations (HSEEs) have the effect of reducing state-level high school completion rates. The state-level analysis in that paper made clear that state HSEEs reduce public high school graduation rates, but they did not explore the mechanisms that might give rise to that effect. As a result, the policy implications of that important empirical finding are limited. One of the best predictors of whether a student drops out of high school is whether they were ever made to repeat a grade in school. At the same time, there is speculation that schools frequently retain students in the grade prior to when state HSEEs are administered. In the present paper we test the hypothesis that state HSEEs affect graduation rates by affecting the rate at which students are retained in school.

Presented in Session 136: Educational Attainment: Trends, Determinants, and Consequences