Skip to main content
Intended for healthcare professionals
Restricted access
Research article
First published online August 25, 2011

The Ineffectiveness of High School Graduation Credit Requirement Reforms: A Story of Implementation and Enforcement?

Abstract

Graduation credit requirement reforms were expected to have a significant impact on the American educational landscape, but scholars have concluded that these reforms have exhibited less impact than expected on a wide range of educational outcomes. Drawing on Lipsky’s theory of street-level bureaucracy, we hypothesize that graduation requirement reforms have been relatively ineffective because of inconsistent implementation and enforcement at the local level. Using data from the National Education Longitudinal Study of 1988 (NELS:88) and the Education Longitudinal Study of 2002 (ELS:2002), we assess the viability of this hypothesized explanation. On the whole, the findings are consistent with our contention that inconsistent implementation and enforcement of graduation credit requirement policies contributes to the relative ineffectiveness of these policy reforms.

Get full access to this article

View all access and purchase options for this article.

References

Ai C., Norton E. C. (2003). Interaction terms in logit and probit models. Economics Letters, 80(1), 123-129.
Alexander K. L., Pallas A. M. (1984). An evaluation of the “new basics.” American Journal of Education, 92, 391-420.
Attewell P., Lavin D., Domina T., Levey T. (2006). New evidence on college remediation. Journal of Higher Education, 77, 886-924.
Bishop J. H., Mane F. (2001). The impacts of minimum competency exam graduation requirements on high school graduation, college attendance, and early labor market success. Labour Economics, 8, 203-222.
Chaney B., Burgdorf K., Atash N. (1997). Influencing achievement through high school graduation requirements. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 19, 229-244.
Clune W. H. (with White P., Patterson J.). (1989). The implementation and effect of high school graduation requirements: First steps toward curricular reform. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University, Center for Policy Research in Education.
Clune W., White P. (1992). Education reform in the trenches: Increased academic course taking in high schools with lower achieving students in states with higher graduation requirements. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 14(1), 2-20.
Finn J. D., Gerber S. B., Wang M. C. (2002). Course offerings, course requirements, and course taking in mathematics. Journal of Curriculum and Supervision, 17, 336-366.
Fuhrman S. H., Elmore R. F. (1990). Understanding local control in the wake of state education reform. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 12(1), 82-96.
Goldschmidt P., Wang J. (1999). When can schools affect dropout behavior? A longitudinal multilevel analysis. American Educational Research Journal, 36, 715-738.
Hoffer T. B. (1997). High school graduation requirements: Effects on dropping out and student achievement. Teachers College Record, 98, 584-607.
Imazeki J., Reschovsky A. (2006). Does No Child Left Behind place a fiscal burden on states? Evidence from Texas. Education Finance and Policy, 1, 217-246.
Imbens G., Wooldridge J. (2008). Lecture 11: Difference-in-difference estimation. Madison, WI: Institute for Research on Poverty. Retrieved from http://www.irp.wisc.edu/newsevents/workshops/appliedmicroeconometrics/participants/notes/rev_lect_11-J.pdf
Ingels S. J., Pratt D. J., Wilson D., Burns L. J., Currivan D., Rogers J. E., Hubbard-Bednasz S. (2007). Education Longitudinal Study of 2002: Base-year to second follow-up data file documentation (NCES 2008-347). Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics.
Lillard D. R., DeCicca P. P. (2001). Higher standards, more dropouts? Evidence within and across time. Economics of Education Review, 20, 459-473.
Lipsky M. (1980). Street-level bureaucracy. New York, NY: Russell Sage Foundation.
Mann D. (1986). Can we help dropouts: Thinking about the undoable? Teachers College Record, 87, 307-323.
Manna P. (2006). School’s in: Federalism and the national education agenda. Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press.
McDill E. L., Natriello G., Pallas A. M. (1986). A population at risk: Potential consequences of tougher school standards for student dropouts. American Journal of Education, 94(2), 135-181.
McLaughlin M. W. (1987). Learning from experience: Lessons from policy implementation. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 9(2), 171-178.
Medrich E. A., Brown C. L., Henke R. R., Ross L., McArthur E. (1992). Overview and Inventory of State Requirements for School Coursework and Attendance. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education.
Meier K. J. (1993). Latinos and representative bureaucracy: Testing the Thompson and Henderson hypotheses. Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, 3, 393-414.
Meier K. J., Stewart J. S. (1992). The impact of representative bureaucracies: Educational systems and public policies. American Review of Public Administration, 22(3), 157-171.
Meier K. J., Wrinkle R. D., Polinard J. L. (1999). Representative bureaucracy and distributional equity: Addressing the hard question. Journal of Politics, 61, 1025-1039.
Norton E. C., Wang H., Ai C. (2004). Computing interaction effects and standard errors in logit and probit models. Stata Journal, 4(2), 154-167.
Pitts D. W. (2007). Representative bureaucracy, ethnicity, and public schools: Examining the link between representation and performance. Administration & Society, 39, 497-526.
Porter A. C. (1998). The effects of upgrading policies on high school mathematics and science. In Ravitch D. (Ed.), Brookings papers on education policy 1998 (pp. 123-172). Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Press.
Pressman J. L., Wildavsky A. (1984). Implementation (3rd ed.). Berkeley: University of California Press.
Reschovsky A., Imazeki J. (2003). Let no child be left behind: Determining the cost of improving student performance. Public Finance Review, 31, 263-290.
Riccucci N. (2005). Street-level bureaucrats and intrastate variation in the implementation of temporary assistance for needy families policies. Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, 15(1), 89-111.
Roderick M. (1994). Grade retention and school dropout: Investigating the association. American Educational Research Journal, 31, 729-759.
Rossman G., Wilson B. (1996). Context, courses, and the curriculum: Local responses to state policy reform. Educational Policy, 10, 399-421.
Rumberger R. W., Palardy G. J. (2005). Test scores, dropout rates, and transfer rates as alternative indicators of high school performance. American Educational Research Journal, 42(1), 3-42.
Schiller K. S., Muller C. (2003). Raising the bar and equity? Effects of state high school graduation requirements and accountability policies on students’ mathematics coursetaking. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 25, 299-318.
Sebring P. A. (1987). Consequences of differential amounts of high school coursework: Will the new graduation requirements help? Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 9, 258-273.
Snyder T.D., Dillow S.A. (2011). Digest of Education Statistics 2010 (NCES 2011-015). National Center for Education Statistics, Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education. Washington, DC.
Teitelbaum P. (2003). The influence of high school graduation requirement policy in mathematics and science on student coursetaking patterns and achievement. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 25, 31-58.
Thompson W. C.Jr. (2009). Audit report on the Department of Education’s calculation of high school graduation rates. New York, NY: Office of the Comptroller. Retrieved from http://www.comptroller.nyc.gov/bureaus/audit/PDF_FILES/ME09_065A.pdf
Twentieth Century Fund Task Force on Federal Elementary and Secondary Education Policy. (1983). Making the grade: Report of the Twentieth Century Fund Task Force on Federal Elementary and Secondary Education Policy. New York, NY: Author.
Tyack D., Cuban L. (1995). Tinkering toward utopia: A century of public school reform. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
U.S. Department of Education, National Commission on Excellence in Education. (1983). A nation at risk: The imperative for educational reform. Washington, DC: Author.
Weatherly R., Lipsky M. (1977). Street-level bureaucrats and institutional innovation: Implementing special education reform. Harvard Educational Review, 47(2), 171-197.
Weissert C. S. (1994). Beyond the organization: The influence of community and personal values on street-level bureaucrats’ responsiveness. Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, 4, 225-254.
Willoughby C. J. (2007). Audit of the District of Columbia public schools’ graduation requirements. Washington, DC: Government of the District of Columbia, Office of the Inspector General. Retrieved from http://oig.dc.gov/news/view2.asp?url=release07%2FDCPS%5FGraduation%5FRequirements%5FFinal%2Epdf&mode=audit&archived=0&month=20073
Wilson B. L., Rossman G. B. (1993). Mandating academic excellence: High school responses to state curricular reform. New York, NY: Teachers College Press.
Wright G. S. (1956). Trends in high school graduation requirements at the state level. School Review, 64(4), 178-180.

Biographies

Michael Planty is currently a statistician at the U.S. Department of Justice and recently published Understanding Education Indicators: A Practical Primer for Research and Policy with Deven Carlson. He has been involved in the design and analysis of large-scale national surveys in the areas of education and criminal justice. His research interests focus on the sociology of education in high schools, measurement of crime and victimization, and issues related to statistical literacy.
Deven Carlson is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of Political Science and a graduate research fellow at the Wisconsin Center for Education Research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His research interests include education policy, housing policy, and policy analysis.

Cite article

Cite article

Cite article

OR

Download to reference manager

If you have citation software installed, you can download article citation data to the citation manager of your choice

Share options

Share

Share this article

Share with email
EMAIL ARTICLE LINK
Share on social media

Share access to this article

Sharing links are not relevant where the article is open access and not available if you do not have a subscription.

For more information view the SAGE Journals article sharing page.

Information, rights and permissions

Information

Published In

Article first published online: August 25, 2011
Issue published: July 2012

Keywords

  1. policy implementation
  2. graduation credit requirements
  3. education policy

Rights and permissions

© The Author(s) 2012.
Request permissions for this article.

History

Published online: August 25, 2011
Issue published: July 2012

Authors

Affiliations

Deven Carlson
University of Wisconsin–Madison, WI, USA
Michael Planty
U.S. Department of Justice, Washington, DC, USA

Notes

Deven Carlson, University of Wisconsin–Madison, 1025 W. Johnson St., Suite 453, Madison, WI 53706, USA Email: [email protected]

Metrics and citations

Metrics

Journals metrics

This article was published in Educational Policy.

VIEW ALL JOURNAL METRICS

Article usage*

Total views and downloads: 797

*Article usage tracking started in December 2016

Altmetric

See the impact this article is making through the number of times it’s been read, and the Altmetric Score.
Learn more about the Altmetric Scores


Articles citing this one

Web of Science: 3 view articles Opens in new tab

Crossref: 4

  1. Redesigning Developmental Mathematics Education: Implementation and Ou...
    Go to citation Crossref Google Scholar
  2. Skin in the Game: A Policy Implementation Study of How School-Level Bu...
    Go to citation Crossref Google Scholar
  3. CS4Some? Differences in Technology Learning Readiness
    Go to citation Crossref Google Scholar
  4. To Math or Not to Math: The Algebra-Calculus Pipeline and Postsecondar...
    Go to citation Crossref Google Scholar

Figures and tables

Figures & Media

Tables

View Options

Get access

Access options

If you have access to journal content via a personal subscription, university, library, employer or society, select from the options below:


Alternatively, view purchase options below:

Purchase 24 hour online access to view and download content.

Access journal content via a DeepDyve subscription or find out more about this option.

View options

PDF/ePub

View PDF/ePub

Full Text

View Full Text