Determinants of Success in High School Economics: Lessons from the Field

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Abstract: Recently, the Hawaii Council on Economic Education conducted a survey of high school seniors to gauge their understanding of basic economic concepts. Based on these results, we conduct a series of case studies, consisting of interviews with principals and economics teachers at eight Hawaii public high schools. We summarize the qualitative and quantitative results of these interviews. We then use these and other data to estimate the effects of school, demographic, and other characteristics on average student achievement on the survey. We find that the improvement in student test scores as a result of a one semester economics course is modest, but that the single greatest determinant of achievement is overall school quality. Based on these and other findings, we present recommendations for policy and further research.

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