Friday, April 25, 2008

COLLEGE BOARD FINDS WRITING SAMPLE BEST PREDICTOR OF COLLEGE GRADES

USA TODAY The College Board, which administers the SAT, studied test scores from 150,000 freshmen entering 110 colleges in 2006 and then looked at their GPAs at the end of their freshmen year, says Wayne Camara, vice president of research. "Our study suggests that the writing test is the best single predictor" of freshman grades, he says. The study won't be finalized until summer, he says.

The University of California drew a similar conclusion from an analysis of its incoming 2006 freshmen and their GPAs, says Sam Agronow, coordinator of admissions research and evaluation at the University of California's office of the president.

While the best predictor of grades is a student's high school GPA, the writing portion of the SAT is the most important among tests required by the UC system, Agronow says. UC will continue to study grades as students proceed through school, but the preliminary results, presented at a small conference in November, came as a surprise to many administrators there, he says. The College Board voted in 2002 to add the writing portion. UC leaders had threatened to abandon the SAT because it didn't reflect what students were learning in school. The writing portion was introduced in March 2005.

Anecdotally, colleges are using the writing portion as a monitored writing sample, says Barmak Nassirian, a policy analyst with the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers. "It wasn't the scores that interested them as that they encountered the student's voice, not that of some coach or consultant."

Bob Schaeffer with FairTest, a testing watchdog group, says, "The question is whether you need the test at all, or whether high school grades are a more accurate predictor than any combination of test scores."

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