PARCC’s ‘College-Ready’ Score Reflects Rigor of College Work, Study Finds

Education Week, 5-17-2016

A first-of-its-kind study has found that students who score at the “college-ready” level on the PARCC exam are well-positioned to earn good grades in college. The findings provide early evidence that the assessment does what it was designed to do: measure college readiness.

The Massachusetts Department of Education commissioned Mathematica Policy Research to do the study last year, as it was considering whether to use PARCC in 2017 or keep using its longtime test, the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System, or MCAS. Massachusetts decided to create a hybrid of the two tests. A summary of the study, which compares PARCC and MCAS, was published Tuesday in a peer-reviewed journal, Education Next.

Researchers at Mathematica wanted to know how closely a “college-ready” score on PARCC and a “proficient” score on MCAS correlate with a good grade-point-average in freshman-year college study, and with the need to take remedial courses. They had freshmen in Massachusetts state colleges and universities take the PARCC and the MCAS in the spring of 2015 and examined how those scores, from 847 students, correlated with their grades and remediation patterns at the time.

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