Posted on 03/14/2016 at 10:29 AM by Liz Determan

“Predictors of Postsecondary Success” (Middle & High Shool)

College & Career Readiness & Success Center, American Institutes for Research

November 2013

Vanessa Hein and Becky Smerdon, Quill Research  Associates, LLC, and Megan Sambolt, American Institutes for Research committed to “summarizing early childhood through early postsecondary education research that identifies student skills, behaviors, and other characteristics that predict future academic and workplace success” (pg. 1).  They looked at a broad range of benchmarks using three categories: indicators, predictors, and other potential factors.  After a review of this report, I felt that it would be helpful to share what they found in the research they reviewed that covered PK through 16 (including the first two years of postsecondary education).

Below is a brief summary of what they found.  This month we will be reviewing what they discovered from the research for middle and high school students.


While there were no surprises, it acts as a good reminder that there are a number of students in our districts who are missing some of the significant attributes, academically and/or personally, who may struggle at achieving the competencies needed to be college and career ready.  I believe we need to develop a long-range plan to address the needs of these students because we need each and every student leaving our districts to be equipped to persist through postsecondary education and training, whatever that may look like, and enter the workforce with the personal and professional attributes that will help them live successful lives.


Age/Grade Span Indicators Predictors Other Potential Factors
Middle Years (Grades 5-8): <20% absenteeism
Remaining at the same school through middle grades
Receiving no unsatisfactory behavior grades in 6th gr.
Passing all ELA & math courses Passing Algebra I in 8th grade
“Grit”: focus, interest levels, commitment, and follow- through
Taking rigorous coursework in the middle grades
Critical thinking
Informed decision making
Social-emotional skills: emotional expression, support-seeking behavior, & direct problem-solving
High School (Grades 9-12):   <10% absenteeism – on track graduation Maintaining a GPA of 3.0 or higher
Completing a math course sequence of: Algebra II, geometry, trig, precalculus or calculus
Dual enrollment participation or AP course work
FAFSA completion
Few school transfers between grades
Early Assessment Program (EAP) & Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test (PSAT) completion
Self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills and responsible decision-making
Equipped to manage anxiety and workload
Participation in SEL intervention
Meeting with academic advisor
Soft skill assessments: ACT Work Keys, NWRC based on Equipped for the Future standards, and the CASAS Workforce (measuring skills such as time management, conscientiousness, self-efficacy, cooperative behavior and openness to new ideas


The study provided some “cut” scores for NAEP and ACT.  I am not including that information here due to the fact that those are “one point in time” on a student’s performance on one assessment.


“None of the indicators, predictors, or other potential factors are intended to be used independently; rather, they are potentially valuable components of a comprehensive data-informed decision process designed to improve postsecondary success for all students.” (pg. 2)

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