Journal of Economic Perspectives: Vol. 27 No. 2 (Spring 2013)


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What Can Be Done to Improve Struggling High Schools?

Article Citation

Cullen, Julie Berry, Steven D. Levitt, Erin Robertson, and Sally Sadoff. 2013. "What Can Be Done to Improve Struggling High Schools?" Journal of Economic Perspectives, 27(2): 133-52.

DOI: 10.1257/jep.27.2.133


In spite of decades of well-intentioned efforts targeted at struggling high schools, outcomes today are little improved. A handful of innovative programs have achieved great success on a small scale, but more generally, the economic futures of the students at the bottom of the human capital distribution remain dismal. In our view, expanding access to educational options that focus on life skills and work experience, as opposed to a focus on traditional definitions of academic success, represents the most cost-effective, broadly implementable source of improvements for this group.

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Cullen, Julie Berry (U CA, San Diego)
Levitt, Steven D. (U Chicago)
Robertson, Erin (Becker Friedman Institute for Research in Economics, U Chicago)
Sadoff, Sally (U CA, San Diego)

JEL Classifications

H75: State and Local Government: Health; Education; Welfare; Public Pensions
I21: Analysis of Education
I28: Education: Government Policy


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