Thursday, 4 Nov 1999

Students who are awarded secondary school scholarships through ACER’s Cooperative Scholarship Testing Program (CSTP) go on to become high performers in their school, a study has shown. ACER Assessment Services Manager, Ms Deirdre Jackson, said "We’re obviously providing a test that identifies the types of students schools want." Scholarship winners responding to the survey received results in the top 5% of Year 12 students. For the main group of scholarship winners, those awarded scholarships for entry to Year 7, the median tertiary entrance rank at Year 12 was over 98, placing them in the top 2% of Year 12 students. Past winners of scholarships based on CSTP tests who finished Year 12 in 1998 were contacted to request permission for access to their tertiary entrance score. More than 150 students responded. "Even though this is a relatively small sample, it shows that the CSTP results successfully provide schools with information to identify the most capable students," Ms Jackson said. In another part of the research, schools who used the CSTP as part of their selection process were surveyed about their perceptions of the effectiveness of the program. Ninety two per cent of responding schools agreed or strongly agreed that the CSTP scores could predict academic success and academic ability of students. "The general perception in schools that the CSTP can identify the most capable students is backed up by the information we gathered about tertiary entrance scores," Ms Jackson said. Eighty-six per cent of schools said students with high scores in the CSTP Maths test were among the top achievers in maths subjects. Eighty-eight per cent said this was true for CSTP Humanities and CSTP Written Expression scores. "The schools’ responses show that the individual sub-tests of the CSTP do successfully predict later performance in the respective subject areas," Ms Jackson said. "Schools can be confident that CSTP test results are valid because no student will have sat the test before. To ensure that this is the case, ACER develops a new test each year." "Many schools find the CSTP to be the easiest way to select students for scholarships. Because so many schools use the tests, applicants only need to sit the test once, even if they are applying to several schools," Ms Jackson said. ACER plans to continue monitoring the performance of the CSTP. Cooperative Scholarship Testing Program (CSTP) The CSTP is used by over 180 Australian independent schools each year to select students for the award of an academic scholarship. The test is designed to identify candidates with high academic potential by measuring underlying abilities in reasoning and problem solving rather than measuring achievement based on typical school curricula. There are three levels of tests in CSTP. The CSTP level 1 test is usually used for students in their final year of primary school for entry into first year of secondary school, the level 2 test for students in their second year of secondary school for entry into third year of secondary school, and the level 3 test for students in Year 10 for entry into Year 11.