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The Effect of High School Curriculum on College Completion


Jun 01, 2010


Jun 01, 2011
Funding Agency
Spencer Foundation

State policymakers across the nation are adopting a college-preparatory curriculum for all students based on evidence that students who take rigorous high school coursework enroll in and graduate from college in higher numbers than students who do not (Achieve, 2009). However, it is unclear whether these differences in educational attainment are caused by differences in high school curriculum, or whether students who are more likely to be successful in college are the same students who take rigorous high school courses. We review the relevant empirical literature and find that the extant research cited to promote mandatory college-preparatory policies may be flawed because it often fails to adequately control for non-random selection into different curricular pathways and typically employs cross-sectional techniques to study the longitudinal processes of high school completion, college access, and college completion.

Primary Investigator(s)

Professor, Marsal Family School of Education; Professor of Economics, College of Literature, Science, and the Arts; Professor, Gerald R Ford School of Public Policy
Marvin W. Peterson Collegiate Professor Emeritus, Marsal Family School of Education; Evaluation Faculty Lead

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