Economic Program | Report

The Secret Behind College Completion: Girls, Boys, and The Power of Eighth Grade Grades

by Thomas A. DiPrete and Claudia Buchmann

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How do we ensure American middle class prosperity in an era of ever-intensifying globalization and technological upheaval? That is the question we are trying to answer with NEXT—a project at Third Way that taps into cutting edge research by top American academics.

To see into the future, look at 8th grade. If an 8th grader gets As and Bs in school, that student will likely earn a college degree. If that same student gets only Bs and Cs, college completion is unlikely. That is one of the stunning conclusions from authors Thomas A. DiPrete and Claudia Buchmann in their report on gender, mobility, and college attainment.

The implications of their findings are astounding, especially when girls do better than boys in school by 8th grade and continue to widen their lead over boys in education attainment. Because our economy rewards educational attainment and punishes the lack of it, could women soon become the primary economic drivers of the U.S. economy?

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