Predicting Success, Preventing Failure: An Investigation of the California High School Exit Exam

Andrew C. Zau and Julian R. Betts
Public Policy Institute of California
2008

What if you could predict the likelihood that a fourth-grade student would, years later, pass the California High School Exit Exam (CAHSEE)? Two researchers at the Public Policy Institute of California claim to have done just that. By using a longitudinal and comprehensive data-set from San Diego, authors Zau and Betts have identified academic, language, and behavioral markers that help predict the probability that a given pupil will pass the test. For example, a good "behavior GPA," based on a student's classroom conduct, is strongly correlated with passing the CAHSEE. Zau and Betts contend that developing an early warning and intervention system, based on such data, would be smarter than employing rushed tutoring programs during eleventh and twelfth grade. We'd add that states might also "vertically align" their assessment systems so that passing the fourth-grade test means you're on track to pass the high school test. (According to our Proficiency Illusion report, such alignment is missing in a majority of the states we studied.) There's much more to dig out of this interesting study, which you can find here.

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