Users of FastBridge requested aspirational benchmarks that indicate advanced student performance that aligns with college and career readiness standards. In response, the research team recommended that an advanced penchmarks be set at approximately the 70th percentile through middle school and the 75th percentile in high school. The default name for this benchmark is College Pathway and it can be changed by the District Manager to reflect district-specific terminology. (i.e., Advanced)
The College Pathway Benchmarks complement those that were already established for high risk (generally below the 15th percentile), some risk (15th to 40th percentile), and low risk (generally above the 40th percentile). The broad range of achievement that previously defined the low risk category is now further refined such that performance at or above the College Pathway Benchmark percentiles indicates superior performance.
FastBridge College Pathway Benchmarks and the ACT, SAT, and College Entrance Requirements
In 2013, approximately 60% of high school graduates enrolled immediately in a college or university (U.S. Department of Education, 2014). Of those students, only about 60% of them graduated from the institution of initial enrollment within four years. Combined, approximately 36% of those who completed high school graduated from the first college they attend within four years.
The graduation rates are substantially higher for students who attend more competitive colleges and universities (see Figure below; ACT, 2014). Although tests of academic achievement are imperfect predictors, higher expectations for achievement function as protective factors and optimize choices. Those choices include the option to attend more competitive institutions with higher graduation rates. Other relevant factors that are not considered here are finance, guidance/support, and social-emotional factors, which includes personal persistence and goal orientation.
Over the last few decades, research on college entrance exams have helped define College Readiness Standards. Generally, ACT and SAT define their standards for readiness based on the likelihood that a student will receive an acceptable grade in their initial college courses. These standards would result in a 50% chance of earning at least a B or 75% chance of a C in credit-bearing college classes in the corresponding subject area (ACT, 2014; ACT, 2006; Wyatt, Kobrin, Wiley, Camara & Proestler, 2011). In 2014, almost 2 million students (60% of the US graduating class) took the ACT. The percentage of students that met ACT’s college readiness standards were 44% in reading and 43% in math (ACT, 2014). Similar findings were published for SAT, and these values have been relatively stable in recent years (Wyatt, Kobrin, Wiley, Camara & Proestler, 2011).
The standards for college entrance vary by institution, and they often exceed standards such as the FastBridge Advanced Pathway Benchmarks. An ACT score of 22 (SAT > 1030) corresponds with the 65th percentile of performance, and it is widely used as a minimum standard for college admission; however, most students (75%) enrolled in a competitive state university have at least a 24 on the ACT (SAT > 1110), which approximates the 75th percentile. Other data on ACT Explore and ACT Compass also indicate College Pathway Benchmarks range from approximately the 70th percentile in middle school to the 75th percentile in high school.
The results described above, along with internal analysis of student performance on FastBridge measures and other related screening measures, support the expectation that the Advanced Pathway Benchmarks correspond with performance at about the 70th percentile through middle school in both reading and math and the 75th percentile in high school.
ACT (2006). Reading between the lines: What the ACT reveals about college readiness in reading. Author.
ACT (2014). The condition of college and career readiness 2014. Author.
Thum, Y. M. & Carl, C. H. (2015). NWEA 2015 MAP Norms for Student and School Achievement Status of Growth. Portland, OR: NWEA.
U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS). (2014). Graduation rates component. Author.
Wyatt, J., Kobrin J., Wiley, A., Camara, W. J. & Proestler, N. (2011). SAT benchmarks: Development of a college readiness benchmark and its relationship to secondary and postsecondary school performance. The College Board.