Poster Paper: Estimating the Impact of Early Postsecondary Opportunities on Student Outcomes: Evidence from Tennessee

Saturday, November 9, 2019
Plaza Building: Concourse Level, Plaza Exhibits (Sheraton Denver Downtown)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Jonathon Attridge1, Madison Dell2, Amanda Klafehn2, Caroline Martin1 and Alex Monday2, (1)Tennessee Department of Education, (2)Tennessee Higher Education Commission

In response to the Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015, Tennessee developed a robust accountability framework for K-12 schools to ensure success for all students. Because this framework identifies bridging high school and postsecondary as a priority area, the Tennessee Department of Education (TDOE) developed a Ready Graduate indicator that measures how well schools prepare students for higher education and incentivizes schools to expand access to early postsecondary opportunities (EPSOs). EPSOs provide students with the opportunity to take college-level courses while still in high school, including Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, and dual enrollment. Previous research suggests that early exposure to the rigor and expectations of college-level coursework increases college attendance and success (Allen & Dadgar, 2012; Cowan & Goldhaber, 2015; Giani, Alexander, & Reyes, 2014), especially for low-income students, underrepresented minority students, and first-generation students (An, 2013; Shapiro et al., 2016; Taylor, 2015). To better understand the changes in EPSOs offered at Tennessee schools and the impact these changes have on student outcomes, we plan to address the following questions in this paper:

  1. How have EPSOs offered at schools changed over time?
  2. What are the strongest predictors of schools offering particular types of EPSOs?
  3. Does a change in EPSOs offered impact student outcomes (high school graduation and postsecondary enrollment)?
  4. Does the type of EPSOs offered have a differential impact on student outcomes (high school graduation and postsecondary enrollment)?

We will leverage data from Tennessee’s longitudinal data system to link state administrative data from TDOE and the Tennessee Higher Education Commission, enabling us to quantify EPSOs offered at public schools and track high school graduation and postsecondary enrollment for high school students in Tennessee. We will also leverage data from the National Center for Education Statistics’ Common Core of Data to control for school-level characteristics, such as student/teacher ratio, percent white, percent non-white, Title I status, locale/urbanicity, and National School Lunch Program status. With school as the unit of analysis, this study will provide descriptive information about the changes in EPSOs offered at Tennessee public schools from 2007-08 through 2017-18. We will use a series of stepwise linear regression models with binary indicators for EPSOs offered as the dependent variable to see which schools are more likely to offer certain types of EPSOs. We will then use linear regression models with high school graduation and postsecondary enrollment as the dependent variables to estimate the impact of changes in the number and type of EPSOs offered on student outcomes.

Though prior literature has investigated the impact of EPSOs on student outcomes at the student level, this study will add to the body of knowledge by exploring how changes in the number and type of EPSOs offered affect student outcomes at the school level. As Tennessee strives to improve students’ preparation for higher education and the workforce, the results of this study can inform policy discussions about the impact of EPSOs and how the state can strategically invest in expanding access to these opportunities.