Awards

Outstanding Dissertation Award winner

This research describes a tool having the potential to inform interventions to promote students' personal readiness for college early in their high school career.

This award is given to a school psychology student who has completed a dissertation that has the potential to contribute to the science and practice of school psychology. This year's winner is Angie J. Pohl, PhD, University of Minnesota.

The Personal Readiness Evaluation for Postsecondary (PREP): A Development and Validation Study

Problem

Despite the pressing need for high schools to prepare all students for college, a gap exists between what it takes to graduate from high school and what it takes to be ready to succeed in college (Conley, 2007). Researchers attempting to identify the skills and knowledge necessary to close this gap and ensure high school graduates are college-ready have determined that academic readiness is not enough to ensure success in college and that personal readiness, such as students' ability to manage their own learning, is also necessary (e.g., Robbins et al., 2004). Although measures of academic readiness for college such as the ACT and SAT are readily available for use in the secondary level, few such instruments exist to measure personal readiness for college.

Purpose

The purpose of this study was to develop and establish validity evidence for the Personal Readiness Evaluation for Postsecondary (PREP; Pohl & Christenson, 2011). The PREP was designed to measure readiness for college of high school students at a stage early enough to inform interventions to increase the students' readiness for post-secondary success. Personal readiness for college was defined as students' self-regulated learning ability including their self-efficacy and ability to engage in academic behaviors such as planning, setting goals, managing time, using study skills, putting forth effort, and persisting in the face of challenges.

Methods

This study was conducted in three phases: Phase I – instrument development, Phase II - pilot study and instrument refinement, and Phase III – testing of the refined instrument. The Phase III study consisted of one sample of 7 th -12 th graders ( n = 451) and three separate samples of 9-12 th grade students (sample 1: n = 1643, sample 2: n = 497, and sample 3 n = 385), all in a Midwestern state. Analyses utilized included confirmatory factor analysis, correlation analysis, reliability analysis, and chi-square tests.

Findings

Evidence of content, construct, factorial, convergent, and discriminant validity combined to establish the following validity arguments. First, the PREP measures what it intends to measure - the three factors of Self-Efficacy and Expectations (e.g., I will achieve my academic goals), Effort and Persistence (e.g., If I fail at something, I try again.), and Self-Regulated Learning (e.g., I plan things out before I begin my schoolwork) are interrelated and yet distinct constructs. Second, the PREP demonstrates internal consistency within scales. Third, the PREP is somewhat related to measures of academic readiness for college including the PLAN, ACT, and GPA, but measures a construct distinct from academic readiness. Fourth, the PREP is able to discriminate between high and low achievers based on their GPA.

Findings suggest that the PREP can be used appropriately with high school students to measure their self-efficacy and expectations, effort and persistence, and self-regulated learning, all indicators of personal readiness for college. Validity evidence also suggests that the PREP can be used to provide students, parents, and teachers with an indicator of whether the students are on-track or off-track to personal readiness for college, as well as identify students in need of intervention for any of the three indicators of personal readiness for college. This tool has the potential to inform interventions to promote students' personal readiness for college early in their high school career, ensuring that they graduate from high school with the habits, skills, and knowledge needed to succeed in college.