EDUCATION - TESTING;

OLR Research Report


March 4, 2003

 

2003-R-0221

VOCATIONAL-TECHNICAL SCHOOL ADMISSION TEST

By: Judith Lohman, Chief Analyst

You asked for information about the vocational-technical school admission test, what skills it assesses, and how well vocational-technical school students do on it.

SUMMARY

The vocational-technical (V-T) school admission test consists of a subset of the reading and math portions of the 8th grade Connecticut Mastery Test (CMT). V-T applicants do not take a separate test. Instead, guidance coordinators report a student’s score on specified parts of the 8th grade test and the sum of those scores makes up the reading and math parts of the student’s total V-T school admissions score.

According to William Turek, a State Department of Education (SDE) consultant, the content areas were chosen based on their applicability to the V-T school program. Because the admission test scores are not the complete CMT test scores, there is no way to relate students’ performance on the V-T school test to the performance of 8th graders statewide.

A comparison of admission scores for the V-T school class of 2003 to mastery levels for the content strands assessed shows that V-T school student scores averaged slightly less than 8% below 2002 mastery level on the math content strands and a little over 7% below for reading.

V-T ADMISSION TEST

The V-T school admission process assesses a student’s grades, attendance, math and reading scores, and performance in an interview. According to a December 10, 2002 SDE report on V-T admission criteria (A Study of the Relationship Between Admission Scores and Performance in the Connecticut Regional Vocational-Technical Schools System (Second Report)), math and reading scores count for 30% of a student’s total admission score.

The math and reading tests the V-T school system uses are the state mastery tests given to all 8th graders every fall. But the V-T system looks only at scores on particular parts of the test, not at the student’s overall CMT performance. Of the 25 specific math content “strands” the 8th grade CMT measures, the V-T schools look at eight. Of five language arts content strands, the V-T schools look at three. The scores from each of these test “strands” are added together to yield the student’s overall reading and math scores.

TEST CONTENT

Tables 1 and 2 show the 8th grade mastery test math and reading content strands by category and whether or not they are used in the V-T admission test. As a measure of the difficulty of each strand, we also show the percentage of students in the state who achieved mastery on each strand on the 2000, 2001, and 2002 tests. Strands used in the V-T admission test are highlighted.

TABLE 1: 8TH GRADE MATH MASTERY TEST

CONTENT STRAND

V-T

ADMISSION TEST

PERCENT OF STUDENTS AT MASTERY

2000

2001

2002

Number Sense

       

• Place Value

No

61%

62%

62%

• Pictorial Representation of Numbers

No

70

70

71

• Equivalent Fractions/Decimals & Percents

Yes

67

66

67

• Order/Magnitude/Rounding

No

64

72

72

Operations

       

• Models for Operations

Yes

59

60

61

• Computation with Whole Numbers & Decimals

Yes

65

56

55

• Computation with Fractions

Yes

56

61

60

• Solve Word Problems

Yes

71

71

71

Estimation & Approximation

       

• Numerical Estimation Strategies

No

65

62

61

• Estimating Solutions to Problems

No

70

73

71

Table 1: Continued

CONTENT STRAND

V-T

ADMISSION TEST

PERCENT OF STUDENTS AT MASTERY

2000

2001

2002

Number Sense

       

Ratios, Proportion & Percent

       

• Ratios & Proportions

Yes

59

58

58

• Computation with Percents

Yes

40

41

41

Measurement

       

• Approximating Measures

No

53

56

56

• Customary & Metric Measures

No

45

44

43

Spatial Relationships & Geometry

       

• Geometric Shapes & Properties

No

52

52

55

• Spatial Relationships

No

65

61

63

Probability & Statistics

       

• Tables, Graphs, & Charts

No

67

55

62

• Statistics & Data Analysis

No

58

59

57

• Probability

No

45

48

48

Patterns

       

• Patterns

No

49

52

50

Algebra & Functions

       

• Algebraic Concepts

No

59

50

49

Discrete Mathematics

       

• Classification & Logical Reasoning

No

67

78

78

Integrated Understandings

       

• Mathematical Applications

Yes

10

16

15

Source: CMT Reports

TABLE 2: 8TH GRADE LANGUAGE ARTS MASTERY TEST

CONTENT STRAND

V-T

ADMISSION TEST

PERCENT OF STUDENTS AT MASTERY

2000

2001

2002

Reading Comprehension

       

• Forming and Initial Understanding

Yes

66%

61%

60%

• Developing an Interpretation

Yes

57

71

72

• Demonstrating and Critical Stance

Yes

38

40

43

Editing and Revising

       

• Composing/Revising

No

57

60

60

• Editing

No

63

60

60

Source: CMT Reports

SKILLS ASSESSED

According to CMT handbooks published by the SDE, the eight math and three reading strands V-T school system uses measure each student’s mastery of the skills and concepts shown in Table 3.

TABLE 3: V-T SCHOOL ADMISSION TEST MATH & READING SKILLS AND CONCEPTS

STRAND

CONCEPT & SKILLS

MATH

Equivalent Fractions, Decimals & Percents

• Rename fractions and mixed numbers as equivalent decimals and vice versa

• Rename fractions and decimals as equivalent percents and vice versa

Models for Operations

• Identify the appropriate operation or number sentence to solve a story problem

• Write story problems from equations involving fractions, decimals, and unknowns

Computations with Whole Numbers & Decimals

• Add and subtract 2-, 3-, and 4-digit whole numbers and decimals

• Multiply and divide whole numbers and decimals by 10, 100, and 1,000

• Multiply and divide 2- and 3-digit whole numbers, money amounts, and decimals by 1-digit numbers and decimals

Computations with Fractions

• Add and subtract fractions and mixed numbers with reasonable and appropriate denominators

• Multiply whole numbers and fractions by fractions and mixed numbers

Solve Word Problems

• Solve 1-step problems involving whole numbers, decimals, and money amounts

• Solve 1-step problems involving fractions and mixed numbers

• Solve multi-step problems involving whole numbers, decimals, fractions, and mixed numbers, including averaging

• Solve multi-step problems involving whole numbers, decimals, fractions, and mixed numbers with extraneous information

• Solve multi-step problems and explain how the solution was determined

Ratios and Proportions

• Solve problems involving ratios

• Solve problems involving proportions

Computation with Percents

• Find percents of whole numbers or the percent a given number is of another number

• Solve problems involving percents

Mathematical Applications

• Solve extended numerical, spatial, and statistical problems

READING

Forming an Initial Understanding

Students demonstrate a basic understanding of the general content of written work typically found in grade-level text. Generally, these students can determine the main idea or theme and identify or infer important characters, settings, events, and details. They can effectively select and use relevant information to summarize a written work.

Developing an Interpretation

Students can effectively interpret what is read and connect it to outside experience and knowledge. Generally, these students can draw conclusions about an author’s purpose and use information from the text to draw or support a conclusion.

Demonstrating a Critical Stance

Students can respond critically to what is read and make judgments about the text’s quality and themes. Generally, these students can make predictions based on what is read and select and use important information within the text in a response to a written work.

For your further information, we enclose sample questions for each of the content strands used for the V-T school admission test (Attachments 1 & 2).

V-T STUDENT PERFORMANCE

Because the V-T school admission test does not use the entire 8th grade math and reading tests, it is not possible to compare V-T school student performance on the test to that of all Connecticut 8th graders in a given year. But we can compare the performance of V-T students in the class of 2003 to the mastery levels for the content strands covered by the admission test.

Mastery level scores for the strands reflected on the V-T admission test total 33 for math and 31 for reading. If these scores are adjusted for consistency with the existing V-T admission score range of 0-18, the math mastery level is 13 and the reading mastery level is 11. The mean score achieved by V-T school students admitted for the class of 2003 was 11. 97 for math and 10. 2 for reading (see Table 2 in SDE’s December 10, 2002 report). Thus, the average V-T school student admitted for the class of 2003 had 8th grade scores on the parts of the test the V-T school uses for admission that are about 8% below mastery level for math and 7% below mastery level for reading.

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