High School Exit Exams and High-Stakes Testing: A National Comparison of High School Completion in 2000
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The adoption of high school exit exams as a prerequisite for graduation has become an increasingly popular high-stakes testing policy for states. This study examined the relationship between high school exit exams and high school completion rates nationally in 2000 incorporating existing school level data from the Office of Civil Rights and Common Core Data to sample a total of 8,653 high schools. The study addresses two research questions. First, nationally are there school-level differences in completion rates between high schools with exit examinations and high schools without exit examinations? Second, which school characteristics predict school completion proportions in high schools with and without exit exams? Additionally, the study utilizes propensity scores to control for demographic characteristics in high schools and features the Cumulative Promotion Index (CPI) as the high school completion indicator. The study found through an Independent Samples T-Test that high schools with exit exams reported significantly lower high school completion rate than high schools without exit exams. Additionally, when incorporating propensity scores stratification into the comparison of high school completion rates, results were similar. Within each of the five propensity score strata, high schools with exit exams reported significantly lower CPI rates than high schools without exit exams. For the second research question, Percent Free and Reduced Lunch, School Region, and Percent Suspension/Expulsion were identified as the strongest predictors of high school completion rate among both high schools with and without exit exams through Multiple Regression. The regression model for high schools with exit exams significantly predicted CPI rate with seven variables significantly contributing to the prediction model. The regression model for high schools without exit exams also significantly predicted CPI rate with eight variables significantly contributing to the prediction model. Findings suggest high school graduation is an inequitable process where students taking exit exams face differential barriers relative to students that do not take exit exams.
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