Monday, February 14, 2011

King Clarifies Stance on ACT and College Admissions

Council on Postsecondary Education President Bob King recently offered his opinions on college admissions saying,

Historically, parents are often directed to focus on graduation rates and average GPAs as evidence of how their high school is performing. Our reports allow parents and educators to look more deeply into actual performance measured by an external, unbiased resource — the ACT exam — now required of all Kentucky students.
That drew a response from KSN&C's Skip Kifer.

Bob King, president of Kentucky's Council on Postsecondary Education applies the council's arbitrary standard of using a single test score to determine whether a student is ready for regular course work in Kentucky's public universities.

He implies a test score is a better predictor of grades in college than is a high school record. He then presents results from one high school that lump higher performing students (those with above-average high school records) with lower performing ones in a misguided approach to justify his position. A test score, however, does not make or break a student's readiness for higher education.

Today, King clairifed his stance in the Herald-Leader.

...Please allow me to clarify that Kentucky's colleges and universities do not rely exclusively on the ACT to make college admission or placement judgments, nor does the Council on Postsecondary Education encourage such determinations.

A student's entire record, including GPA, extracurricular activities, and other placement exams form a portfolio that allows campuses to make informed decisions on admission and placement.

The ACT serves as an important element in this consideration, but more importantly, it serves as an alarm bell in the student's secondary experience about preparation for life after high school.

This might have been a good place to stop. It acknowledges Kifer's concerns and clarifies King's stance. But King then makes allusions to "certain thresholds" in the ACT which serve to warn us if a student is not on track.

It warns of the need to take a deeper look at a student's college readiness if the scores fall below certain thresholds, but it is not the sole determinant when placing students in developmental courses... Far from arbitrary cutoff scores, there is a great deal of data from tens of millions of ACT score results upon which policy makers in Kentucky rely to set the scores used to indicate college readiness in key entry-level courses.

If the thresholds King has in mind are, in fact, a reference to ACT's benchmarks, which are inappropriately modeled, one wonders if King's effort to lay the issue to rest might draw yet another response from Kifer.

We'll see.


Anonymous said...


Which benchmarks are you talking about?

The ACT Benchmark Scores, or the ones the CPE uses, which are not the same?

Also, who says the modeling is inappropriate?

Richard Day said...

I'm trying to understand what King meant, and was concerned that it might be the ACT benchmarks since that's what KDE is tentatively planning to use to measure gap closing.

If CPE is using something else, that's probably good.

Here's the argument over how ACT benchmarks are inappropriately modeled and how some folks want the test to mean more than it really can: