A new Regional Educational Laboratory Southeast study provides preliminary evidence that scores on an interim reading assessment in grade 9, the Florida Assessments for Instruction in Reading–Florida Standards (FAIR-FS), can be used as part of an early warning system of college readiness on the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT) and the ACT Plan.
The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between
measures of reading comprehension, decoding, and language with
college-ready performance. This research was motivated by leaders in two
Florida school districts interested in the extent to which performance
on Florida’s interim reading assessment could be used to identify
students who may not perform well on the Preliminary SAT/National Merit
Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT) and ACT Plan. One of the
districts primarily administers the PSAT/NMSQT and the other primarily
administers the ACT Plan. Data included the 2013/14 PSAT/NMSQT or ACT
Plan results for students in grade 10 from these districts, as well as
their grade 9 results on the Florida Assessments for Instruction in
Reading – Florida Standards (FAIR-FS). Classification and regression
tree (CART) analyses formed the framework for an early warning system of
risk for each PSAT/NMSQT and ACT Plan subject-area assessment.
PSAT/NMSQT Critical Reading performance is best predicted in the study
sample by a student’s reading comprehension skills, while PSAT/NMSQT
Mathematics and Writing performance is best predicted by a student’s
syntactic knowledge. Syntactic knowledge is the most important predictor
of ACT Plan English, Reading, and Science in the study sample, whereas
reading comprehension skills were found to best predict ACT Plan
Sensitivity rates (the percentage of students
correctly identified as at risk) ranged from 81 percent to 89 percent
correct across all of the CART models. These results provide preliminary
evidence that FAIR-FS scores could be used to create an early warning
system for performance on both the PSAT/NMSQT and ACT Plan.
potential success of using FAIR-FS scores as an early warning system
could enable districts to identify at-risk students without adding
additional testing burden, time away from instruction, or additional
Identifying students who may not be able to meet college readiness benchmarks prior to high school graduation is critical to addressing their skill deficiencies. Using scores on an existing interim reading assessment in an early warning system could enable districts to identify at-risk students without additional testing burden, time away from instruction, or cost.