Students’ academic performance in 8th grade predicts whether they are prepared for college and the workplace—even more so than their high school coursework or family background, a study concludes.
The authors of the study, published by ACT Inc., a nonprofit test developer and research organization based in Iowa City, Iowa, created predictive models to compare 8th grade achievement against other factors that could influence students’ college readiness. Such factors included grade point average, the number of advanced and honors courses the students had taken during high school, and their background characteristics, such as parents’ education level.
The study found that 8th grade achievement, as measured by students’ English, mathematics, reading, and science scores on an ACT-developed test of middle school students known as Explore, showed a stronger relationship with college and career readiness than the other factors.
The authors say the research shows that students’ readiness for postsecondary study and careers can be improved by developing the right academic skills and behaviors in upper elementary and middle school, rather than waiting until high school.
A version of this article appeared in the January 07, 2009 edition of Education Week