Academic journal article Phi Delta Kappan

Predicting Student Futures

Academic journal article Phi Delta Kappan

Predicting Student Futures

Article excerpt

How accurate are teachers' hunches about whether students will drop out or enroll in college? Are teachers better at these predictions than sophisticated early warning systems data?

States and districts are investing in early warning systems that quantify data about students, examining test results, attendance records, course selections, course failures, and other information. But teachers have access to some data that would be hard for early warning systems to quantify: attitudes, behavior, and effort. 'Teachers naturally collect a huge amount of data, especially related to academic tenacity, simply by observing their students on a daily basis," said James Soland, a doctoral student at Stanford University and author of the study.


Soland learned that teachers and the early warning systems were both quite accurate in predicting which students would drop out: Teachers were accurate 89% of the time when they predicted that a student would drop out of school; the early warning systems were accurate 88% of the time.

But the early warning systems were more accurate at predicting which students would attend college: Teachers were on target 74% of the time, but the data system got it right 83% of the time.

Apply demographics to the comparisons, and the results are more divergent. …

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