Can a large number of students with low admissions scores really complete four year degrees and reap the economic benefits of college completion? The New York Times is spotlighting two recent studies that suggest that, in fact, they can.
Using SAT data, the studies tracked students who reached an 840 admission cutoff score for their states' universities, and also tracked those who narrowly missed the cutoff. (Because the studies looked at outcomes over a long period, the original SAT scores used the 0-1600 scale in place when the participants were in high school.)
One study, based in Georgia, fund that roughly half the students who reached the cut score earned bachelor's degrees within six years, compared to 17% of those who missed. That's a clear indication that many students with marginal scores can, in fact, complete their degrees.
The other, focused on Florida students, found an average earnings difference of 20% between the two groups. The Times qootes one of the authors of that study as saying, “If you give these students a shot, they’re ready to succeed,”
For those who make or influence policy, this sort of evidence can be a reminder to use test scores with caution and in combination with other evidence of academic capacity, commitment to work, and tenacity in confronting challenges. Taken alone, the assessments can miss or underestimate quite a lot of human potential to persevere and succeed.