Document Type

Dissertation

Date of Degree

Fall 2014

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In

Psychological and Quantitative Foundations

First Advisor

Stephen B. Dunbar

Second Advisor

Timothy N. Ansley

Abstract

As current educational policies continue to emphasize the importance of college readiness and growth, it is essential to understand the degree to which test scores collected throughout middle school and high school can provide information to make valid inferences about students' college readiness. This thesis sought to summarize the college readiness of Iowa students, describe the nature of student growth, and clarify the relationship between student growth and college readiness. Together, the results support the validity argument that scores from a general achievement test can be used for measuring student growth and making on-track interpretations about college readiness.

Results of analyses on the use of benchmarks as indicators of college readiness are presented first. The analyses showed that the state's general achievement test was just as accurate as the ACT when the criterion was defined by grades in domain-specific, credit-bearing courses. Next, latent growth models and growth mixture models were used to summarize and evaluate longitudinal changes in student achievement and their relationship with college outcomes. A calibration sample representing potential college-bound students was used to set the growth trajectories. Then a cohort of students representing the full student population was used to provide validity evidence in support of the growth trajectories. It was shown that students in the highest-performing group could be considered college ready. Several applications of the growth models are also presented. The typical performance on a variety of college outcomes for each developmental group was presented for the validation sample. A second application illustrated how individual patterns of growth in Grade 8 could be used to predict future class membership in Grade 11.

This thesis was predicated on the notion that understanding and documenting the nature of student growth, the college readiness of Iowa students, and the relationship between the two is an important step in improving the college readiness of Iowa students and meeting the future needs of an aligned K-16 educational system. As this study is among the first to examine the relationship between college readiness and student growth using modern latent variable modeling techniques with actual college outcomes, guidelines for future research are presented.

Public Abstract

This was an exploratory study examining the college readiness and growth of student achievement in Iowa. Its primary purpose was to investigate growth at the individual level and examine how individual variability in growth was related to college readiness. A secondary purpose was to present a validity argument that test scores can be used for making on-track interpretations about a student’s college readiness.

This study demonstrated that existing and readily available measures of student achievement can provide useful information on the growth and college readiness of Iowa students. It was shown that scores from a general achievement test can be used as indicators of college readiness and how the scores allow for on-track interpretations towards college readiness. Latent growth models and growth mixture models were used to summarize the nature of student growth. Performance of different developmental trajectories on several college outcomes were also presented. It was shown that students in the highest-performing group consistently and accurately be considered college ready. This type of study is important, as recent shifts in education have brought student growth and college readiness to the forefront of educational reforms. Now more than ever, it is essential to understand the degree to which test scores can provide valid inferences about students’ college readiness throughout their educational careers.

Keywords

publicabstract, achievement, benchmarks, college readiness, growth, latent growth models, mixture models

Pages

xiii, 204 pages

Bibliography

Includes bibliographical references (pages 194-204).

Copyright

Copyright 2014 Anthony Fina

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