Date of Award

Spring 2022

Degree Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Education, PhD


School of Educational Studies

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

David Drew

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

Emilie Reagan

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

Frances Gipson

Terms of Use & License Information

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 4.0 License.

Rights Information

© 2022 Carol A Alexander


Assessment Bias, College Enrollment, College Persistence, College Readiness, High School Predictors, Smarter Balanced Assessment

Subject Categories



The lack of college readiness in the United States is a critical issue that jeopardizes our economy. The demographic inequality of the crisis, particularly for low-income as well as Black and Latinx students, emerges from systemic problems of race and class in American education and society which suppress students’ educational and economic mobility. As part of the national reform efforts, state-based standardized tests such as the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) were designed to be better aligned with K-12 Common Core standards and provide a more efficient and equitable measure of academic performance and college readiness in middle and high school when compared to traditional measures such as the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) and grade point average (GPA). Although the SBAC test is being used across the nation, there is a large research gap regarding how the SBAC compares with GPA and the SAT for prediction of college readiness and the degree to which it is unbiased by demographic or school variables. Therefore, the research problem of this study was to investigate the predictive power of the 8th-grade and 11th-grade SBAC tests, as compared to GPA, the SAT, curricular intensity, and college aspirations, for college readiness as measured by college enrollment and persistence, and how such predictability may be biased by nonacademic factors of poverty, race, and school size. The purpose of this quantitative, ex post facto study, which was conducted on archived data from a large, urban, and demographically diverse school district in southern California, was to investigate the problem using rigorous statistical analyses of path analysis, discriminant function analysis, and logistic regressions. There were several important findings. Both middle and high school SBAC tests were not reliable predictors of college readiness, despite their intended design, in contrast to high school GPA, SAT, curricular intensity, and college aspirations which tended to strongly and reliably predict college readiness either directly or indirectly via their positive effects on other predictors. However, the middle school SBAC tests reliably and positively predicted the high school SBAC tests, even when controlling for middle school GPA. Moreover, middle school SBAC scores were strongly related to middle school GPA, and high school SBAC scores were strongly related to high school GPA. These various results provide evidence of high internal consistency within SBAC assessments and suggests that these tests can accurately and reliably track students’ academic progress between middle and high school. In addition, there was evidence of demographic or school bias in the scores of all academic indicators based on the findings of significant direct effects from those demographic and school variables towards the academic variables. There was also evidence of bias in the predictive validity of the academic indicators for college enrollment and persistence based on the findings of reduced predictive effects when controlling for the demographic and school variables or different predictive effects for different demographic groups. Importantly, the degree of theses biases in SBAC was less than the degree of biases in SAT but similar to GPA. Based on these results, the overall conclusion and recommendation for educational policy is that the SBAC tests seem ideal for monitoring students’ academic progress, instruction, and needs throughout middle and high school but less ideal for predicting college enrollment and persistence.



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