Individual Differences in Course Choice Result in Underestimation of the Validity of College Admissions SystemsInside the same class, the student with higher SAT scores/h.s. grades does better than the student with lower SAT scores/h.s. grades. High school grades were a slightly stronger predictor than SATs.
by Christopher M. Berry1 and Paul R. Sackett2
ABSTRACT—We demonstrate that the validity of SAT scores and high school grade point averages (GPAs) as predictors of academic performance has been underestimated because of previous studies’ reliance on flawed performance indicators (i.e., college GPA) that are contaminated by the effects of individual differences in course choice. We controlled for this contamination by predicting individual course grades, instead of GPAs, in a data set containing more than 5 million college grades for 167,816 students. Percentage of variance accounted for by SAT scores and high school GPAs was 30 to 40% lower when the criteria were freshman and cumulative GPAs than when the criteria were individual course grades. SAT scores and high school GPAs together accounted for between 44 and 62% of the variance in college grades. This study provides new estimates of the criterion-related validity of SAT scores and high school GPAs, and highlights the care that must be taken in choosing appropriate criteria in validity studies.
Volume 20—Number 7
Thus, to the degree that prediction of grades is a goal of college admissions systems, SAT scores and high school GPA are clearly useful tools for deciding which college applicants will achieve the greatest levels of academic performance.
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
SAT scores predict grades in individual courses