All students enter school with a combination of "headwinds" and "tailwinds". Tailwinds are the things that make school easier for students. Tailwinds may include factors such as coming from a home with parents of high education levels and economic stability, being a native English speaker, not having a disability, or being a member of the cultural majority. Each of those characteristics plays a role in helping a student experience success in school.

Headwinds on the other hand make school more difficult. Headwinds can include having economic instability at home, parents with lower levels of education, having a disability, or still learning English. The more headwinds a student has, the more difficulty they will have in maximizing their academic potential and the more “tailwinds” they will need. Tailwinds come in the form of high-quality instruction, support, and intervention.

The Academic Support Index, or ASI, quantifies these headwinds. A student’s ASI is the sum of their headwinds. Their ASI can also be considered a measure of the amount of support that they will need in order to mitigate the impact of those educational headwinds. Students with a low ASI will likely need very little additional support outside of Tier 1 instruction. Higher ASI students will likely need proportionally higher amounts of Tier 2 and sometimes Tier 3 supports.

There is a strong relationship between the ASI and academic outcomes including assessments such as the SAT, Smarter Balanced Assessments, AP and IB tests, kindergarten screeners, grade point averages, rates of college eligibility, matriculation, and degree attainment. We have studied these effects over seven years of data as well as across urban, suburban, and rural schools. To date over 400,000 students have been scored on the ASI. (See the featured post below for a list of papers and presentations on the ASI).

Because the ASI is able to reliably predict student outcomes you have to opportunity to interrupt that predictability by using the ASI to make sure that you are identifying the right students for early intervention and support. With effective intervention, predictive analytics can become preventive analytics.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

The ASI as a predictor of SAT performance

Now that the College Board is going to start providing an "Adversity Index" along with SAT scores, I thought I'd take a look at how well the ASI aligns with students' SAT scores.  The ASI itself is a measure of the academic headwinds that students face.  I suspect the Adversity Index is attempting to do something similar.

The chart below is a look at the average SAT total score by students' Academic Support Index.  Unsurprisingly, the chart looks like most any other academic outcome when viewed through the lens of the ASI.  As the amount of headwinds increases, performance decreases in a generally linear fashion.
Additionally, there was a large effect size (d > 1.25) when comparing the ASI clusters of students with 0 to 2 ASI points against students with an ASI of 3 or higher.