Testing and Dropouts

K-12 Testing
Researcher Brian Jacob has conducted the most extensive national study to date on the question of whether graduation tests produce an increase in the school dropout rate. In “Getting Tough? The Impact of High School Graduation Exams,” Jacob found that students who scored in the bottom fifth on tests in the eighth grade were 25% more likely to drop out in states that had graduation exams. The tests, however, “have no appreciable effect on the probability of dropping out for the average student.” Jacobs also found that minimum competency tests (MCT) had no overall impact on student achievement, but students in the bottom ten percent in grade 8 had smaller reading gains in states or schools with graduation tests.


Jacob used data from the National Educational Longitudinal Survey (NELS). He studied the impact of MCTs from 1988 to 1992, not the more difficult graduation tests some states have recently introduced.


- Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, Summer 2001 (V.23, N.3)