The Relationship between Core Competency Skills in Mathematics, Reading, and Writing and Students’ Achievement in High School Biology Course By Peter C. Liu Queens College, CUNY May 14, 2008
Problem & Motivation <ul><li>Does a student’s critical reading, mathematics, and writing literacy competency affect his/her performance in a high school biology course? </li></ul><ul><li>Motivated in parts by high failure rate of our freshmen class on the Living Environment Regent Exam. </li></ul><ul><li>The need to devise a workable intervention strategy which target our students’ specific needs. </li></ul>
The Approach <ul><li>Outcome in student’s science achievement: Freshmen class’ June 2007 Living Environment (LE) Regent exam results. </li></ul><ul><li>Measure of various literacy skill competencies: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>8th grades City-wide ELA and Math Assessments (Time lapse is more than 1 1/2 yrs.) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test (PSAT) administered at 10th grade level </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Perform a correlation analysis between students’ PSAT scores (breakdown by category) and LE Regent exam results. </li></ul>
Background of Student population: Gender • Male-to-Female Ratio: Approximately 2:1 • School-wide: 88% General Ed., 12% Special Ed. With 3.9% in least-restrictive and 8.1% in most-restrictive environment.
Background of Student population: Ethnicity • Ethnicity Tested: Predominantly Hispanics (50%), followed by Asians/Pacific Islanders (22%), Caucasians (14%), and Afro-Americans (10%). • School-wide: English Language Learners = 9.95%.
Background of Student population: Meal Code • Socio-economic background: Total of 61.9% eligible for either free (54.8%) or reduced-price (7.1%) meals, and 17.5% fall into full-priced meal category.
Descriptive Statistics of PSAT and Living Environment Regent Exam Scores • PSAT (20-80): Mean scores fall below 1/2 of possible range. • Living Environment Regent: Mean & median just above the passing score of 65.
Correlational Analysis for PSAT and Living Environment Regent Exam Scores
PSAT & Living Environment (LE) Regent Scores: Correlational Analysis Summary • A strong positive correlation exists between a student’s PSAT total score and his/her Living Environment Regent Exam score. • When consider correlation of individual competency skills as measured by PSAT, critical reading skills is more closely correlated with LE performance than mathematical skills, while writing skills is found to have weakest correlation. • Correlation does not indicate causal relationship between the variables. • Approximately 33% of students’ LE performance may be affected by factors which can contribute to the improvements in critical reading assessment scores.
ANOVA of Living Environment (LE) Regent Exam Scores between Different Demographic Groups • Based on available data, there appears to be no significant difference in the mean LE Regent Exam scores among different genders, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups.
Correlation of Living Environment (LE) Regent Exam to PSAT Scores for Each Demographic Group
Demographic-based Correlation Analyses of LE Regent Exam to PSAT Scores: Observations • Among the genders, achievement in LE Regents exam is more strongly correlated with literacy competency skills in males than in females. • Between the different ethnic groups, strongest correlation is found to be among Caucasians, and the weakest correlation is found to be among Asian/Pacific Islanders. • There appears to be no discernible difference between the correlations among different socio-economic groups. • Address the question of which population to target and what type of intervention strategy to use: Based on correlational strength.
An Alternative Explanations of Demographic-based Correlation Analyses • Note the correlation is stronger for male than for females, and much stronger for Caucasians than for Afro-Americans, Hispanics and Asians/Pacific Islanders. • Perhaps it’s because the design of PSAT is able to assess the literacy competencies of Caucasian males more accurately than other gender/ethnic groups. • If so, this correlational analysis provide additional support for the argument that the design of PSAT (and SAT) is inherently unfair to gender-ethnic groups other than Caucasian males.
Next Step: Where do We Go from Here? • Assess the validity of PSAT-based correlation results with the use of a different reading, mathematics, and writing literacy competency assessments. • Action research: Implement intervention strategy that target specific core literacy skills which has shown strongest correlation with students’ LE Regents exam performance. • Note: The effectiveness of PSAT/SAT writing assessment in predicting students’ achievement in science is debatable.
In Conclusion • There exists a significant correlation between the various core skill competencies as measured by PSAT and the student’s performance in high-school Living Environment Regent exam. • Critical reading skills is found to be most strongly correlated with student’s performance in LE Regent exam (followed closely by mathematics skills), while writing skills is found to be most weakly correlated. • This type of analysis provide a quantitative basis for devising intervention strategy that target student’s specific needs in relation to the subject matters of the science course.