High School Exit Examinations and Post-Secondary Labor Market Outcomes

John R. Warren, University of Minnesota
Eric Grodsky, University of California, Davis
Jennifer C. Lee, University of Minnesota

Since the early 1980s, an increasing number of states have required students to pass statewide high school exit examinations (HSEEs) in order to graduate. States have generally adopted HSEEs in response to the perception that graduates typically lack skills required for success in the modern economy and that requiring students to pass a graduation test will make the diploma meaningful to employers. What do these education reforms mean for students’ post-secondary economic and labor market prospects? The central hypothesis of our research is that state HSEE policies have the effect of widening gaps in employment rates, earnings, poverty rates, and public assistance use between students who have high school diplomas and those without them. To test this hypothesis we will we will model the association between state HSEE policies and labor market outcomes using data from the 1984-2003 Current Population Surveys (CPS) and the 1980 through 2000 U.S. Censuses.

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Presented in Session 21: Stratification Processes