Developing and Validating Early Assessments of College Readiness: Differential Effects for Underrepresented Groups, Optimal Timing of Assessments, and STEM-Specific Indicators

This purpose of this project is to develop and validate a range of assessments with a focus on academic preparedness for higher education. The team will explore relevant qualities of assessments such as their differential predictive validity to ensure they are appropriate for underrepresented groups, the optimal grade level to begin assessing readiness, and measures that are most appropriate for predicting STEM-specific readiness.

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One third of all college freshmen are academically unprepared for entry-level college coursework and require remedial course. That figure is much higher at many colleges. The problem is more acute in STEM disciplines, particularly among students from underrepresented ethnic groups and low socioeconomic status families. This purpose of this project is to develop and validate a range of assessments with a focus on academic preparedness for higher education. The team will explore relevant qualities of assessments such as their differential predictive validity to ensure they are appropriate for underrepresented groups, the optimal grade level to begin assessing readiness, and measures that are most appropriate for predicting STEM-specific readiness.

This project will use two recent and complementary large-scale, nationally representative federal databases: the High School Longitudinal Study of 2009 and the Education Longitudinal Study of 2002. Factor analysis will be used to develop composite variables of college readiness and multilevel regression will be used to develop predictive models on a range of college outcomes to test the predictive validity of composite and individual predictors. The models will be extended to conduct multiple group analyses to test for differential prediction for students from underrepresented groups. The project intends to promote 1) the use of a wider range of assessments of academic preparedness, 2) the use of measures that are more sensitive for assessing college readiness from underrepresented groups and among STEM majors, 3) earlier assessment using indicators and models with predictive validity and 4) progress monitoring of college readiness by providing a detailed example of how that can be developed and implemented. Findings will also raise student, parental, teacher, and other school personnel awareness of the range of factors relevant for preparing students for college.

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