Panel Paper: Who's Ready? College Readiness in California Under Common Core Standards

Friday, November 4, 2016 : 10:55 AM
Columbia 4 (Washington Hilton)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Michal Kurlaender, Scott Carrell and Paco Martorell, University of California, Davis

College and career readiness standards are at the heart of the Common Core State Standards movement, which has emphasized the need to better align K–12 education systems with higher education to ensure a more seamless transition for young adults between high school and college, and between high school and the labor market. California had been at the forefront of these efforts, and is currently revising its entire accountability system to align K-12 to postsecondary schooling through the adoption of Common Core State Standards (CCSS). In addition to using more rigorous assessments aligned with CCSS, the new policy builds on the earlier system by making the assessment of college readiness a feature of universal statewide testing rather than something voluntary. Identification as college ready has real benefits for students, as it allows students to avoid having to take remedial courses (that do not count towards a degree) at California Community College and State University campuses.

This paper will provide a first look at the adoption of California’s new college readiness standards. Our analysis will make use of statewide data for six cohorts of California 11th graders (2010-2015). These data contain longitudinal information on student test scores, demographics, and enrollment patterns. Importantly, we have access to 11th grade test scores, which are used for college readiness identification, and 8th grade test scores, which provide a baseline measure of student performance. First, we describe thecharacteristics of students identified as college and career ready, and examine how these differ from identification under the earlier standards. Using the baseline 8th grade scores, we test whether students with similar 8th grade scores (and other observable characteristics such as exit exam scores) are more or less likely to be identified as college ready in 11th grade under the new versus old standards. Next, we estimate regression models in which “identified as college-ready” is regressed on student characteristics (e.g., 8thgrade test scores, gender, race/ethnicity, free/reduced lunch eligibility, English language learner (ELL) status) and their interactions with exposure to the new standards. The coefficients on the interaction terms provide a useful description of how the change in readiness standards differentially affected students by gender, race/ethnicity, ELL, SES, and prior ability.