Truman School of Public Policy
University of Missouri
216A Middlebush Hall
Columbia, MO 65203
NBER Working Papers and Publications
|August 2018||Take Two! SAT Retaking and College Enrollment Gaps|
with Joshua Goodman, Jonathan Smith: w24945
Data on millions of SAT-takers show only half retake the exam, with even lower retake rates among low income and underrepresented minority students. Scoring below multiples of 100 increases retaking, implying some students have round number target scores. Regression discontinuity evidence finds retaking once improves admissions-relevant SAT scores by 0.3 standard deviations on average. Likely by strengthening college applications, retaking substantially increases four-year college enrollment, particularly for low income and underrepresented minority students. Eliminating disparities in retake rates could close up to 20 percent of the income gap and 10 percent of the racial gap in four-year college enrollment.
|November 2016||Shifting College Majors in Response to Advanced Placement Exam Scores|
with Christopher Avery, Michael Hurwitz, Jonathan Smith: w22841
Mapping continuous raw scores from millions of Advanced Placement examinations onto the 1 to 5 integer scoring scale, we apply a regression discontinuity design to understand how students’ choice of college major is impacted by receiving a higher integer score despite similar exam performance to students who earned a lower integer score. Attaining higher scores increases the probability that a student will major in that exam subject by approximately 5 percent (0.64 percentage points), with some individual exams demonstrating increases in major choice by as much as 30 percent. These direct impacts of a higher score explain approximately 11 percent of the unconditional 64 percent (5.7 percentage points) gap in the probability of majoring in the same subject as the AP exam when attaining a...
|June 2016||The Long Run Impacts of Merit Aid: Evidence from California’s Cal Grant|
with Eric Bettinger, Laura Kawano, Bruce Sacerdote: w22347
We examine the long-term impacts of California’s state-based financial aid by tracking students’ educational and labor force outcomes for up to 14 years after high school graduation. We identify program impacts by exploiting variation in eligibility rules using GPA and family income cutoffs that are ex ante unknown to applicants. Aid eligibility increases undergraduate and graduate degree completion, and for some subgroups, raises longer-run annual earnings and the likelihood that young adults reside in California. Aid eligibility has no impact on take-up of the Pell or federal tax credits for higher education. These findings suggest that the net cost of financial aid programs may frequently be overstated, though our results are too imprecise to provide exact cost-benefit estimates.