Academic Predictors of Success

The number of institutions of higher education using Test Optional Policies (TOPs) in admissions decisions has increased significantly in recent years, including a growing number of 4-year Colorado institutions (Colorado College, University of Denver, Colorado Christian University, and Metropolitan State University). Recent national research indicates that institutions that adopt a test-optional admissions policy experience an increase in applications as well as an increase in the proportion of structurally underserved populations, including racially minoritized students. Admissions policies that require standardized tests (specifically SAT and ACT) can unnecessarily disadvantage otherwise well-qualified students and perpetuate systemic inequities. According to the Colorado Department of Higher Education, high school GPA is the most powerful predictor of first year retention among Colorado IHEs and overall postsecondary completion

Overall, the 2020 report found that high school GPA is strongly associated with student success outcomes, independent of SAT or ACT test scores. Consistent with previous IRP&E findings as well as national research, HS GPA can serve as a reliable predictor for first fall GPA as well as second and third fall persistence. These associations hold for structurally underserved populations, including those with multiple intersecting identities (racially minoritized, first generation, and/or limited income) as well as students with lower levels of pre-college academic preparation (defined in this report as students recommended for support). Results also highlight the importance of the holistic review process for those students who may not meet CSU’s automatic admission criteria due to lower HS GPA and test scores since these metrics generally have weaker predictive power for these populations compared to the CSU population overall. 

The 2020 Addendum examines this association between meeting the Higher Education Admission Requirements (HEAR) and success for students recommended for support (SRS). In the case of SRS students who have met HEAR requirements, they have similar first fall GPA and higher persistence rates compared to students who do not meet them.

The 2016 report investigates the predictive validity of the Colorado Commission on Higher Education (CCHE) Index score in modeling student success outcomes. CCHE index was retired as of fall 2019 and is not longer used as an admission criterion.