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Can scores on an interim high school reading assessment accurately predict low performance on college readiness exams?

by Sharon Koon and Yaacov Petscher

During the 2013/14 school year two Florida school districts sought to develop an early warning system to identify students at risk of low performance on college readiness measures in grade 11 or 12 (such as the SAT or ACT) in order to support them with remedial coursework prior to high school graduation. The study presented in this report provides preliminary evidence that scores on an interim reading assessment in grade 9, the Florida Assessments for Instruction in Reading-Florida Standards (FAIR-FS), can be used to identify students who may score below the college readiness benchmark on the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test or ACT Plan in grade 10. The percentage of students not meeting the college readiness benchmark who were correctly identified by the Florida Assessments for Instruction in Reading-Florida Standards as at risk ranged from 81 percent to 96 percent. Classification accuracy depended on the assessment and subject area being predicted. Using scores on an existing interim reading assessment in an early warning system could enable districts to identify at-risk students without additional testing burden, time away from instruction, or cost. Key findings include: (1) FAIR-FS reading comprehension scores predict PSAT/NMSQT critical reading performance with 89 percent sensitivity; (2) FAIR-FS syntactic knowledge scores predict PSAT/NMSQT math performance with 81 percent sensitivity and writing performance with 84 percent sensitivity; (3) FAIR-FS syntactic knowledge scores predict ACT Plan English performance with 81 percent sensitivity, reading performance with 84 percent sensitivity, and science performance with 96 percent sensitivity; and (4) FAIR-FS reading comprehension scores predict ACT Plan math performance with 83 percent sensitivity. Data sources and methodology are appended.

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