Eighth Grade Minimum Competency Testing and Early High School Dropout Patterns.Report as inadecuate

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Data from the National Education Longitudinal Survey (NELS) are used to examine the relationship between minimum competency testing and dropout rates. Proponents of such testing have argued that minimum competency tests provide incentives for schools and students, but opponents have argued that such tests lead to a low-level basic skills curriculum and increase dropout rates by discouraging low-scoring students from continuing in school. The focus is on eighth-grade testing, specifically tests that students must pass to be promoted to the ninth grade. Students in urban schools and in schools with high concentrations of low-income and minority students are more likely to face minimum competency test requirements. Longitudinal data from the 1988 and 1990 NELS show that in schools with high concentrations of low socioeconomic status students, minimum competency requirements are linked to sharply higher dropout rates. Once socioeconomic composition is taken into account, schools with below average student grades, low attendance rates, and high concentrations of minority students and students who are above age for their grade display no further systematic relationship between minimum competency testing policies and dropout rates. More detailed analysis for students surveyed in 1988 and 1990, in a final sample of 720 schools, confirms the relationship of minimum competency testing and dropping out for low and moderately low socioeconomic status schools, although they do not give clear evidence of causality. (Contains 6 tables, 4 figures, and 17 references.) (SLD)

Descriptors: Disadvantaged Youth, Dropout Rate, Dropout Research, Dropouts, Equal Education, Grade 8, Junior High Schools, Low Income Groups, Minimum Competency Testing, Minority Groups, Socioeconomic Status, Urban Schools

Author: Reardon, Sean F.

Source: https://eric.ed.gov/?q=a&ft=on&ff1=dtySince_1992&pg=11946&id=ED400273

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