NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Taking the Easy Way Out: How the GED Testing Program Induces Students to Drop Out

James J. Heckman, John Eric Humphries, Paul A. LaFontaine, Pedro L. Rodriguez

NBER Working Paper No. 14044
Issued in May 2008
NBER Program(s):   ED

The option to obtain a General Education Development (GED) certificate changes the incentives facing high school students. This paper evaluates the effect of three different GED policy innovations on high school graduation rates. A six point decrease in the GED pass rate due to an increase in national passing standards produced a 1.3 point decline in overall high school dropout rates. The introduction of a GED certification program in high schools in Oregon produced a four percent decrease in high school graduation rates. Introduction of GED certificates for civilians in California increased the high school dropout rate by 3 points. The GED program induces students to drop out of high school.

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A data appendix is available at http://www.nber.org/data-appendix/w14044

This paper was revised on December 5, 2011

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w14044

Published: James J. Heckman & John Eric Humphries & Paul A. LaFontaine & Pedro L. Rodr�guez, 2012. "Taking the Easy Way Out: How the GED Testing Program Induces Students to Drop Out," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 30(3), pages 495 - 520. citation courtesy of

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