Predicting College Success: How Do Different High School Assessments Measure Up?

Year of publication: 
March 2018
Policy Analysis for California Education

In 2014, the state of California implemented the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) in order to align state assessment and accountability policies with the newly adopted Common Core State Standards (CCSS). At the heart of the new performance and accountability system is the Smarter Balanced Assessment. The Smarter Balanced Assessment is designed to evaluate a student’s full range of college- and career-readiness as defined by the CCSS. Three years after the implementation of the Smarter Balanced Assessment, we can now begin to analyze how well the assessments predict college readiness. In addition, we can investigate how the Smarter Balanced Assessments measure up to other commonly used assessments for predicting college success.

In this research brief, we describe early college outcomes for the 2014-15 cohort of California 11th graders, the first cohort of 11th grade Smarter Balanced Assessment takers. Specifically, we explain how well the Smarter Balanced Assessment, high school grade point average (HSGPA), and SAT predict first-year college outcomes for students enrolled in the California State University (CSU) system. We similarly explain outcomes for students enrolled in the University of California, Davis (UCD). We also report how the relationship between these assessments and early college outcomes differ by key student subgroups (race/ethnicity and socioeconomic disadvantage).


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