Testing College Readiness
Commissioned by the Massachusetts’ Executive Office of Education, this study was designed by Mathematica to provide timely, rigorous evidence on how accurately two tests (MCAS and PARCC) assess college readiness. Prior to its authorization, there was no reliable evidence that could demonstrate whether the new Common Core-aligned assessments (PARCC or Smarter Balanced) provide accurate information about which students are prepared for success in college. Based on the findings, the authors found that the PARCC and MCAS 10th-grade exams do equally well at predicting students’ college success, as measured by first-year grades and by the probability that a student needs remediation after entering college. Scores on both tests, in both mathematics and English language arts (ELA), are positively correlated with students’ college outcomes and the differences between the predictive validity of PARCC and MCAS scores were modest. In addition, the study also found that PARCC’s cutoff scores for college-and career-readiness in math are set at a higher level than the MCAS proficiency cutoff and are better aligned with what it takes to earn “B” grades in college math.