Sunday, March 20, 2016
League, Day 1: Uncovering Hidden Talent
- High school GPA has stronger predictive validity than any exam. That holds true even across wealth gaps between districts. As Hetts pointed out, a student who manages to succeed in a struggling school does so with minimal support; that student must be pretty tenacious. And the data bear that out.
- Students with a C in a 100-level class are likelier to graduate and transfer than students with a B in a developmental class.
- High school GPA continues to outperform standardized tests for as long as ten years after high school graduation! (I wouldn’t have guessed that.)
- ACT and SAT scores are better than Accuplacer, but they add nothing to GPA.
- Hetts and Edgecombe both noted that the majority of the “equity gap” in graduation can be traced to initial placement. In other words, PRIOR TO MATRICULATION, most of the achievement gap has already been baked into the cake. Hetts fired off a great phrase -- “the fierce urgency of now” -- to suggest that this is not okay.
- Edgecombe noted that completion rates for college-level math rose less than you’d expect, given how many students were placed into it under multi-factor placement; the reason that many students placed into it didn’t take it. She noted that allowing students to procrastinate math is ultimately a policy choice, and we could choose differently.
- Hetts noted that for every additional level of remediation a student is assigned, rates of completion of transfer-level courses drop by a third to a half. That’s devastating. In California 55% of African-American and Latino students are assigned three or more levels of remediation.
- Bostian noted an average drop in GPA of 0.6 going from high school to college. That’s how they settled on a 2.6 high school GPA to indicate readiness.
So why all the emphasis on standardized testing?
I have my own (cynical) opinion, but I'd be curious about yours.
I'm not surprised based on sample size alone: HS GPA is the average of 20+ grades that represent a year of work (40+ if you go by semester, 80+ if you go by quarter) and that's low balling it because most students take more than 5 courses per term.
A placement test is one session.
She noted that allowing students to procrastinate math is ultimately a policy choice, and we could choose differently.
Requiring students to take both English and math in their first semester did wonders for us. Of course, doing this required putting a significant amount of money into our math department to ensure that we actually had enough sections of remedial math each semester so there was a seat for everyone who needed it.
Bostian noted an average drop in GPA of 0.6 going from high school to college.
I'm curious as to how this has changed over time since the pressure on HS teachers to improve pass rates has significantly increased in the class ten years. (Of course, that could be insignificant depending on the student population since the pressure is primarily directed towards turning F's into D's, but not so much turning C's into B's or B's into A's.)
I'm also curious as to what they mean by HS GPA -- is this weighted or unweighted? In order to encourage students to take AP and other classes that are harder to earn high grades in without hurting their place in the class rank, high schools calculate a weighted GPA where they give additional points to honors/AP classes. This means that honors students typically have a weighted GPA that might be up to a half or full point above their actually GPA. That adds some big distortions to these calculations.
We also have community colleges which are starting to provide bachelor's degree programs. I've heard they've been find it hard to staff these programs.
How ironic that these two events are in Chicago this year. I'd be interested to know if there are even any Illinois institutions represented - especially from outside of the Chicago metropolitan or suburban areas. At my institution in the middle of the state, we are unfortunately not even traveling to our extension centers that are 45 minutes away to serve students in person (they can obviously still call or email or travel to the main campus) so that we can save money in mileage reimbursement. Travel to Chicago to attend a national professional development opportunity? No way.
BTW, I don't get the question about weighted averages. I don't think kids taking AP classes are placing into low-level developmental classes after they graduate HS and enroll in college. And I don't think we have any HS freshmen take dual-enrollment classes unless they are being home schooled. (Those are usually taking math.) In any case, dual-enrolled students are a pretty select group, and even then they have to place into college-level English or math to take classes at our CC.