Date

2015

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Doctor of Education

Department

Educational Leadership

First Adviser

White, George

Other advisers/committee members

Hochbein, Craig; Donohue, Louise; Rutter, Thomas

Abstract

The twenty-first century world that America's current students will find themselves in will be a world highly influenced by the knowledge economy. In this globalized world, human intelligence will be a valuable natural resource as borders and barriers across the world become less important. In order to succeed in this new world, America's students must be ready to compete with their peers all over the globe. A key feature of the twenty-first century is the increased access to college that individuals all over the world have. While the United States continues to be a global superpower, there are indications that its students are entering college ill equipped to meet the demands and rigor of higher education. An increasing number of students are requiring remediation upon entering their selected college or university. Students who require remediation are less likely to graduate from college and remedial programs costs colleges and universities billions of dollars each year.As a result of this trend, an increased focus on what it means to be college ready has emerged. While much of the research has focused on what high schools can do to prepare college ready students, the ACT identified the level of college readiness students attain by 8th grade as having more impact than anything that happens in high school. The College Board, creators of the SAT, established college readiness benchmark scores for their exams. Students who meet these college readiness benchmark scores are more likely to be successful in college than those who do not. The current study examined 1,446 students from a suburban Pennsylvania school district who had three pieces of data available to the researcher: 8th grade Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA) scores, 8th grade final teacher assigned grades in math and English, and SAT scores. For the purposes of this study, students' scores on their first attempt taking the SAT were used. Additional variables were controlled for including gender, IEP status, free and reduced lunch eligibility, the level of math taken in 8th grade, and when in a student's high school career they first took the SAT. A logistic regression was run to determine to what extent 8th grade PSSA scores and final teacher assigned grades predict college readiness as measured by the SAT. The SAT college benchmark scores were made into dichotomous dependent variables, meaning that students either met the score or did not meet the score. Results from this study indicated that both student grades and PSSA scores are significant predictors of future college readiness. Additionally, the level of math students take in 8th grade is highly predictive of future college readiness. Students who take advanced math courses, Algebra I or higher, in 8th grade are significantly more likely to be college ready than students who do not. Students who have IEPs and are free and reduced lunch eligible were significantly less likely to meet the benchmarks than their peers. Gender was found, in many cases, to have statistical significance, but not pragmatic significance. Findings from this study indicate that the work done by teachers and students in the middle grades has a significant impact on developing college readiness levels in students, and efforts made to increase student performance in middle school can also improve college readiness.

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