Predicting college completion

I’m a pediatrician.  I can’t help myself. Here’s one more chart from The State of Working America:

This is the percent of children who finish college both by eighth grade test scores and income. Let’s acknowledge that students with high scores (yellow) are in general more likely to complete college than students with low scores (red).

But note how much income dominates that determination. A student in the top 25% of income who has low scores is more likely to complete college than a student in the bottom 25% of income who achieves high scores. Moreover, if you’re in the bottom 25% of income, you’re not likely to complete college at all, regardless of scores. The opposite is true for those in the top quarter of incomes.

Think about that as we fixate obsessively on test scores as a way to measure and predict future academic performance.

Economic Policy Institute. 2011. Incomes matter more than test scores for college completion. The State of Working America. Washington, D.C.: Economic Policy Institute. Feb. 14, 2011. <>.

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