Wednesday, May 18, 2016
By Mike BushnellA first-of-its kind study finds that PARCC assessments accurately measure a student’s “college readiness,” noting that a student who meets the college-ready scores on the tests are on track to succeed in post-secondary education.
In the report, Predictive Validity of MCAS and PARCC, researchers from Mathematica Policy Research examined the effectiveness of PARCC and the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) in measuring and predicting a student’s likelihood to succeed in college. Researchers asked 847 freshmen college students in Massachusetts to take the PARCC and MCAS assessments, and examined how their performance on the tests correlated to their current college grades and the courses they were taking at the time.
The research “demonstrates that the PARCC exam performs at least as well as the SAT in predicting students’ outcomes in college,” said the study’s authors, in the Summer issue of Education Next. “It also demonstrates that PARCC chose demanding thresholds for deeming a student ‘college-ready,’ giving students good information about whether they are prepared to succeed in college courses.”
The report’s authors found a correlation between a student’s score on PARCC and their college grades, adding that PARCC did the most-effective job of the two tests in predicting a student’s readiness for college math courses. The study found that students whose PARCC English language arts scores were “college-ready” (earning either a Level 4 or Level 5 score on the test) had an 85 percent probability of earning at least a 2.0 grade point average in their freshman year of college, while those who earned a Level 4 or above on the math portion had an 89 percent chance of earning at least a C average in their first year of post-secondary education.
"It's a strong signal that in terms of that aspect of what PARCC was designed to do—to give a strong indication of college readiness—it succeeded in doing that," Nichols-Barrer told Education Week.
The study also found that students who met PARCC’s college readiness standards were less likely to need to take remedial courses once they got to college. Just 15 percent of students who scored at a Level 4 or above on PARCC needed remediation in English, and 12.6 percent of college-ready students in the study required remedial math courses, according to the research report. According to a recent report from Education Post, families spend nearly $1.5 billion annually on remedial college courses, including $380 million in student loans.