Dennis Epple from Carnegie Mellon University will present "Can Colleges Effectively Educate a Diverse Student Body? Evidence From West Point", (with Dario Cestau, Richard Romano, Holger Sieg, and Carl Wojtaszek).
The growing importance of higher education for economic success coupled with rapidly rising tuitions are bringing increasing pressure on colleges to undertake assessments of their effectiveness in educating a diverse student body. Supreme Court decisions have mandated that college actions to promote diversity must be based on clear, measurable, non-discriminatory criteria. These pressures highlight the need for colleges to undertake a systematic collection of data on students' entering credentials, performance in the college, and placement. An assessment strategy is then needed to compare outcomes of majority and minority students
with comparable entering qualifications. The proviso "comparable entering qualifications" is of particular importance, given differences in college readiness between minority and majority students. We develop and implement such an assessment strategy for West Point for comparison of outcomes of majority and minority students. The study of West Point is of interest in its own right, but we believe our contribution is of much broader interest. The database maintained by West Point is a model that other colleges and universities might seek to emulate. Our approach, using matching estimators, can fruitfully be employed by other colleges and universities to assess their performance. We
find that minority students at West Point have similar graduation rates as their matched white counterparts but black students have significantly lower achievement scores. Despite the difference in achievement scores, we fi
nd no difference in early career outcomes between majority and minority students. Encouragingly, we
find that the one-year remedial program provided by the West Point preparatory school substantially improves college readiness for minority students.