The Impact of the Michigan Merit Curriculum and Michigan Promise Scholarship on Student Outcomes

April 2009 - June 2012


Note: This project is run by the Education Policy Initiative (EPI). EPI was launched at CLOSUP in 2007 but later became a stand-alone unit within the Ford School of Public Policy. The information below is for archival purposes only, to document the project's work while it was part of EPI at CLOSUP. For current information on this project, see the current EPI website.

Under the direction of Brian Jacob, CLOSUP's Education Policy Initiative is partnering with Professor Susan Dynarski from UM's Ford School of Public Policy and School of Education, as well as Professor Barbara Schneider and others at Michigan State University, and with the Michigan Department of Education, to launch an ambitious new study of the impact of the Michigan Merit Curriculum and the Michigan Promise Scholarship. This 5-year project is funded by a $5.9 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education's Institute of Education Sciences.


States and school districts nationwide have increasingly focused reform efforts at the high school level. In particular, states have standardized high school curricula, raised high school graduation requirements and provided increased financial assistance for postsecondary education. 

Michigan is leading the way in these reforms: In spring 2006, the state adopted one of the most comprehensive sets of high school graduation requirements in the country, known as the Michigan Merit Curriculum. The new requirements are meant to ensure students have the knowledge and skills to succeed in college and the workplace.

Starting with the class of 2011, the Michigan Merit Curriculum requires all high school students to pass a set of 16 rigorous academic courses, including algebra I, geometry, algebra II, biology and chemistry or physics. The state also developed a new set of content standards, end-of-course exams and a new statewide high school exam to ensure a high level of rigor in the required courses. 

During the same time period, the state introduced a new merit-based scholarship program, the Michigan Promise Scholarship, to help students afford to enroll in and complete college. From 2007-2009 (the program is currently not funded), the Michigan Promise Scholarship provided students who meet certain academic standards with up to $4,000 for college. Students qualified for the aid by either receiving a passing grade in all subjects on the Michigan Merit Exam or completing two years of postsecondary education at an approved institution with a cumulative grade point average of at least 2.5.

This research project will help analyze the outcomes of eight student cohorts, the graduating classes of 2007 through 2014, including an analysis of various subgroups.

For more information, see the project press release.