The effects of state-level education policies on high school academic achievement : graduation rates, college-readiness tests, and college aspirations
Thesis (M.P.P.)--Georgetown University, 2009.; Includes bibliographical references. Given the importance of public education in the U.S. and claims that it has the potential to equal the playing field for all citizens, it is critical to understand what state-level reforms may be contributing to greater academic successes and which need to be changed in order to address the pressing concern of education in America. States have approached stagnating high school completion rates and lackluster college readiness in a myriad of ways: requiring that a high school exit exam be passed in order to demonstrate proficiency, allowing charter schools to open and create "competition" for public schools, providing pre-kindergarten education, increasing mathematics course requirements, raising the compulsory education age, requiring all students to take the ACT, and adjusting per pupil expenditures, to name a few.; Predicated on the theory that raising expectations will raise the level of achievement for all students, this study examines the effects of the aforementioned state-level education policies on high school completion rates and on student participation levels in the SAT, ACT, and AP tests. Using state-level data from a variety of U.S. government agencies, education testing organizations, and education non-profit research organizations to construct a panel data set for the 1997-2006 high school graduating cohorts, this study finds that the existence of a high school exit exam requirement has a significantly negative effect on the outcomes of interest. The requirement that all students take the ACT, pre-kindergarten participation, and per pupil expenditures all contribute to higher secondary school completion rates and participation levels in the SAT, ACT, and AP tests.