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News Release - Achievement Data Predicts ACT Scores

March 10, 2011

News Release

CDE Analysis Shows Achievement Data Will Reliably Predict ACT Scores

A student’s performance on ninth- and 10th-grade CSAP serves as a strong predictor of future results on the Colorado ACT, according to a study released today by the Office of Research and Evaluation at the Colorado Department of Education. Such prediction can now show a student as early as ninth-grade how low, moderate or strong growth will affect an actual ACT score years later.

In fact, the study found, using the Colorado Growth Model, the Colorado Student Assessment Program (CSAP) provides a better indication of future results on ACT in reading, mathematics and science than two assessments developed by ACT itself. In testing English, however, the ACT-developed assessments have the edge and correlate more highly with ACT performance.

All 11th-grade students in the state are given what’s known as the “Colorado ACT” or “CO ACT” as part of the state’s school assessment and accountability system. It is identical to the national college entrance exam, ACT, but is given to all Colorado 11th-graders, not only those who are intending to attend college. In 2010, 52,951 students took the Colorado ACT.

“Overall, there is nothing in these data to indicate that the ACT battery of tests is any more aligned between grades than are the CSAP and CO ACT,” the report states. “Results from the ninth- and 10th-grade CSAP gauge the same general knowledge domains and produce roughly equivalent scale score inferences.”

Marie Huchton, senior statistical consultant of the Office of Research and Evaluation, conducted the study, which was presented to the Colorado State Board of Education today. The report is available in full at:

The ACT-developed assessments, designed to help students prepare for ACT, are known collectively as EPAS (Educational Planning and Assessment System). One portion, EXPLORE, is designed to be administered in eighth- or ninth-grade. The second portion of EPAS, PLAN, is designed to be administered in 10th-grade. In recent years, the EPAS system has been mentioned by state legislators and others as a possible replacement for CSAP in grades eight, nine and ten.

“Although EXPLORE and PLAN were expressly created to align with the ACT, scores on these assessments have correlations between 0.65 and 0.82,” the report states.”The correlation between 10th-grade CSAP and CO ACT is stronger than that found between PLAN and ACT in reading, math and science. Only in English are PLAN and ACT more highly correlated. Similarly, the correlations between ninth-grade CSAP and CO ACT are higher for all the available content areas -- English, reading, and math-- as compared to EXPLORE and ACT.”

Using the Colorado Growth Model, predictive linkages can now be made from the ninth- and 10th-grade CSAP to the 11th-grade CO ACT in each content area tested.

The report concludes: “The analyses reported herein present a clear picture of the CSAP and CO ACT as highly related assessments. It has been shown that the CSAP is an excellent predictor of ACT achievement and of later college-readiness.”

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