Predicting Proficiency On A State Assessment Using Prior Performance For Racial And Economic Subgroups
Castagnoli, Jean Marie
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The study considers the feasibility of using prior performance to identify students at risk of failure as a strategy for reducing the achievement gap in the elementary grades in a large metropolitan school district. More specifically, the study examines the relationship between student performance on a 2nd grade Comprehensive Test of Basic Skills (CTBS/5) and student proficiency status for the Maryland School Assessments (MSA) in mathematics and reading in the 3rd, 4th, and 5th grades. The nature of the racial and poverty gaps are that White students and economically advantaged students score consistently higher than Black students and economically disadvantaged students on the MSA, though differences in achievement are largely explained by whether individual students and their peers participate in the school's free-and reduced-price meals service (FARMS). Different analytic and policy-relevant methods for examining the magnitude of the gap and the district's progress towards reducing the gap are considered as part of the study. Analyses with logistic regression show that prior performance in the 2nd grade is positively related to proficiency in reading and mathematics in the middle and later elementary grades, though the strength of the relationship is stronger in reading and declines in later grades. There are indications of an interaction between prior achievement, race, and especially FARMS status, with prior achievement becoming less important and FARMS status becoming more important in predicting proficiency in later grades. The feasibility of using these models to identify students at risk of failing to attain proficiency in later grades is discussed along with a set of recommendations for policymakers and school leaders.