Using the National Assessment of Educational Progress as an Indicator for College and Career Preparedness
For the last several years, the National Assessment Governing Board (NAGB) and the National Center for Education Statistics have been exploring how the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), the Nation’s Report Card, can be used to assess the college and career readiness of America’s high school students. Researchers at AIR used existing administrative records from Virginia to examine the relationship between NAEP scores and a set of concrete measures of student success in college and in the labor market. In our approach, “readiness” is reflected in the measurable success of students in college and in the workforce.
We investigated the following two research questions:
- Are there points on the NAEP scale that are more closely related to career and college success than the current cut scores for NAEP proficiency levels? (A cut score is the threshold dividing those who are likely to succeed and those who are not.)
- How successful in college and in careers are students at each NAEP proficiency level (Basic, Proficient, Advanced)?
- The empirically “optimal” cut scores are closer to the NAEP Proficient cut score rather than the NAGB college academic preparedness cut score.
- The rates of success for students’ retention into their second year of college (Retention) and their earnings after obtaining a degree (Earnings) had similar rates of success for both cut scores.
- The rates of success for students’ credit accumulation in the first year of college (Progression) and degree completion (Completion) are higher at the NAEP Proficient cut score than the NAGB college academic preparedness cut score.