Academic journal article College and University

Assessing the Impact of the CAMBRIDGE INTERNATIONAL ACCELERATION PROGRAM on U.S. University Determinants of Success: A Multi-Level Modeling Approach

Academic journal article College and University

Assessing the Impact of the CAMBRIDGE INTERNATIONAL ACCELERATION PROGRAM on U.S. University Determinants of Success: A Multi-Level Modeling Approach

Article excerpt

his study is part of an ongoing initiative to evaluate the predictive validity of the Cambridge acceleration program in the United States. Establishing predictive validity by relating high school performance to later academic performance has a long and established heritage in u.s. educational research (see, e.g., Burton and Ramist 2001; Cohn, Manion and Morrison 2007; Culpepper and Davenport 2009; Kobrin et al. 2008; Lenning 1975; Sadler and Sonnert 2010). The long-term purpose of the Cambridge research agenda is to highlight the effectiveness of Cambridge assessments at predicting students' preparedness for and continued academic success at u.s. universities as evidenced by first-year college and cumulative grade point average (gpa) as well as other performance outcomes. Tertiary-level academic success as used here is determined by the persistence of a student with a specific gpa within the university.

The first phase of research used data collected from three cohorts of students enrolled at Florida State University (Shaw and Bailey 2011a, 2011b). The data included information about each student's performance at high school, ethnicity, gender, and first-year university gpa. Multi-level modeling was used to investigate the relationships among the variables and to determine which were the best indicators of academic success at university while taking into account the effects of individual high schools. Findings suggested that the Cambridge acceleration program compared favorably with other acceleration programs in the United States, including Advanced Placement (ap) and the International Baccalaureate (ib).

This second phase of research, based on new data provided by Florida State University (fsu), attempts to address the impact of the Cambridge and other acceleration programs on various aspects of university engagement. Student participation in undergraduate research, for example, is one of several indicators of college success. The inclusion of research in the undergraduate curriculum has been widely endorsed by u.s. educators and policy makers (Boyer Commission 1998; Hu 2012; Kuh 2008). Undergraduate research is also associated with greater student retention/persistence (Banta 2004; Craney et al. 2011; Inkelas et al. 2012; Lopatto 2006; Russell, Hancock and McCullough 2007). Consequently, this study entails expanding the freshman gpa data modeling work of Phase 1 to include a longitudinal study comparing degree completion by Cambridge, ap, and IB cohorts at fsu. The likelihood of students' pursuing additional undergraduate educational, professional, and research opportunities is also modeled, and findings are compared across the ap, ib, and Cambridge cohorts.

U.S. ACCELERATION PROGRAMS AND THEIR IMPACT ON COLLEGE PERFORMANCE

The successful transition from high school to postsecondary study is contingent upon a student being college ready (Conley 2010, 2011; Camara 2013). College readiness is receiving ever greater focus in the United States as college aspirations rise and public policy promotes college readiness for all (Duncan and Martin 2010; U.S. Department of Education 2006a, 2006b, 2010). U.S. students and universities must consider all available indicators for success in higher education, including the offer of college-level coursework to high school students. High school acceleration strategies thus are seen as one of the main policy mechanisms for increasing college enrollment and fostering tertiary-level success as they can have positive effects on cognitive strategies, content knowledge, and learning and behavioral skills and techniques.

HIGH SCHOOL ACCELERATION PROGRAMS

Advanced Placement

Since its inception in 1955, Advanced Placement has become the most common and rapidly expanding acceleration mechanism in the United States. The College Board claims that the ap program can offer students advantages in terms of college success; that the program not only facilitates the narrowing of achievement gaps but also enriches students' high school experiences; and that high schools prepared to offer ap can be thought of as gold standard' institutions (see Challenge Success [2013] for an evaluation of the four College Board claims for ap). …

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