High school exit exams are meant to standardize the quality of public high schools and to ensure that students graduate with a set of basic skills and knowledge. Evidence suggests that a common perverse effect of exit exams is an increase in dropout for students who have difficulty passing tests, with a larger effect on minority students. To mitigate this, some states offer alternative, non-tested pathways to graduation for students who have failed their exit exams. This study investigates the post-secondary effects of an alternative high school graduation program. Compared with similar students who fail to complete high school, those students who take the alternative pathway have better post-secondary outcomes in both education and employment. Compared with similar students who retake exit exams to graduate, those who eventually graduate through an alternative project-based pathway have lower college enrollment, but similar employment outcomes.

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