This white paper considers college admission exams—specifically the SAT® and ACT®—as potential measures to be included in California’s college and career indicator. This white paper begins by presenting a brief overview of the two exams, their respective histories, and their current applications to other state accountability systems. Next, the SAT and ACT are evaluated against the framework being used for all five categories of potential college and career preparedness measures. This white paper concludes with a summary that identifies major strengths, weaknesses, and tradeoffs.
In September 2012, Governor Jerry Brown signed into law Senate Bill 1458, which calls for California’s school accountability system to shift from a near-exclusive reliance on state test scores to a broader range of measures demonstrating student achievement. At the high school level, starting in the 2015–16 school year, the Academic Performance Index will include an indicator composed of measures reflecting students’ college and career preparedness. This white paper concerns itself exclusively with high school performance. As a result, this report uses school and high school interchangeably.
To determine exactly what measures will be included in this new indicator, the State Superintendent of Public Instruction and the State Board of Education will consider input from regional public meetings, a statewide survey, and recommendations from the Public Schools Accountability Act Advisory Committee. To further support this decision-making process, the California Department of Education has contracted with the Educational Policy Improvement Center (EPIC) to evaluate five different categories of potential measures of college and career preparedness. The first five white papers in this series each summarize one of those categories to examine which measure or measures should be included in a college and career indicator. The sixth white paper discusses opportunities and challenges of a multiple measure system. A final report summarizes findings from all six white papers. In this series of white papers, the term measure is a discrete metric used to determine an aspect of college and career preparedness. The term indicator refers to a system that comprises one or more college and career preparedness measures.