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The Myth of Achievement TestsThe GED and the Role of Character in American Life$
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James J. Heckman, John Eric Humphries, and Tim Kautz

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780226100098

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2014

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226100128.001.0001

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Who Are the GEDs?

Who Are the GEDs?

(p.139) 4 Who Are the GEDs?
The Myth of Achievement Tests

James J. Heckman

John Eric Humphries

Tim Kautz

University of Chicago Press

The pool of exam certified high school equivalents has changed greatly over the past 60 years. At the outset, exam certified equivalents were World War II veterans. The early equivalency tests were successful because they targeted these veterans, who had abundant character skills. The test certified their cognitive skills and their military experience certified their character skills. Nowadays, GED exam certification sends a mixed signal. In this chapter we show that across four different data sets, GED recipients have higher cognitive ability than other dropouts, but come from similar backgrounds and exhibit similar behaviours. The GED exam certifies cognitive skills, but dropping out of high school signals a shortfall of important character skills.

Keywords:   Determinants of GED Certification, Educational attainment, High School Graduation, Character, Cognitive Skills

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