Saturday, June 6, 2020

CURMUDGUCATION: Do Exit Exams Reduce Crime

CURMUDGUCATION: Do Exit Exams Reduce Crime

Do Exit Exams Reduce Crime

Of all the claims made about high school exit exams, this has to be one of the most unlikely, but here comes Matthew Larsen in the ever reformy Education Next to argue that exit exams--tests that are required to get a diploma--reduce crime.

Larsen is an assistant professor at Lafayette College in Pennsylvania. He's in the economics department, because of course he is. He set out to look at whether exit exams or increased course requirements had an effect on crime statistics. "Conventional belief holds that more and better-quality education reduces crime," he reasons. "Could exit exams improve teaching and learning in high schools such that criminal activity drops?"

The answer he came up with is that exit exams reduce the arrest rate, mostly for property crimes, but that increased course requirements do not. How did he come up with such sexy findings?

He collected FBI arrest data for 15-24 year olds from 1980 to 2010. He assumed that everyone was committing crimes in the same state in which they attended high school, and that they graduated when they were 18. There was also some estimating going on, like estimating the general age and gender distribution of the jurisdictions of the various police departments.

After that, it's pretty basic. If the state implemented exit exams in 2005, Larsen compares the arrest rates for the people who graduated before 2000 with that of the people who graduated afterwards. Larsen claims that by including cohorts in the same year (e.g. the arrest records for 2003 would include both cohorts that graduated before and after the test was implemented) he eliminates other factors, like police department staffing. Except, fo course, those overlap years CONTINUE READING: 
CURMUDGUCATION: Do Exit Exams Reduce Crime