High School GPAs and ACT Scores as Predictors of College Completion: Examining Assumptions about Consistency across High Schools

Published Online in:
Educational Researcher
January 28, 2020

Elaine M. AllensworthUniversity of Chicago
Kallie ClarkUniversity of Chicago

High school GPAs (HSGPAs) are often perceived to represent inconsistent levels of readiness for college across high schools, whereas test scores (e.g., ACT scores) are seen as comparable. This study tests those assumptions, examining variation across high schools of both HSGPAs and ACT scores as measures of academic readiness for college. We found students with the same HSGPA or the same ACT score graduate at very different rates based on which high school they attended. Yet, the relationship of HSGPAs with college graduation is strong and consistent and larger than school effects. In contrast, the relationship of ACT scores with college graduation is weak and smaller than high school effects, and the slope of the relationship varies by high school.

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Read the press release: "Research Finds that High School GPAs Are Stronger Predictors of College Graduation than ACT Scores."